ST. LOUIS – Two or three times a week, Linda Baker drops by the Bowl Inn in her central Illinois hometown, hoping to strike it rich by plunking pennies and nickels into new video gaming machines.
Baker, the disabled Jacksonville woman in her 60s, has been lucky, figuring she’s $75 to $100 ahead.
Exactly how cash-strapped Illinois’ fortunes shake out with the state’s long-awaited gambling expansion remain to be seen, although the first numbers appear to illustrate the wagering option’s popularity – at least for now.
A new Illinois Gaming Board report this week shows video gambling statewide brought in more than $346,000 last month, which is when the bulk of the machines went live. That’s more than three years after lawmakers approved them to help fund a $31 billion push to fix schools, roads and bridges, despite strong opposition from gambling critics.