Few people want Illinois to step away from a source of revenue and employment. But some people worry about who will hold the bill for the money casinos can deliver. And others fear that gambling will cause long-term damage the state isn’t prepared to repair.
Before the casino legislation passed, Illinois residents lost a great deal of money on gambling. In 2017 alone, losses totaled $4 billion.
Gambling may seem fun, but the games are rigged in favor of the owners. It’s rare for people to walk away earning more than they have lost. Some fear that the revenue generated from gambling will come straight from the pockets of Illinois residents.
Others worry about gambling addiction. The National Council on Problem Gambling says about 1 percent of American adults qualify for a diagnosis of pathological gambling. While casinos don’t technically cause these problems, having them nearby certainly isn’t helpful.
According to Mayo Clinic, signs of problem gambling include:
- Preoccupation. You feel the need to gamble almost constantly, and you’re always looking for ways to get more play money. You may commit crimes to get funds, or you may ask family members or friends to help.
- Tolerance. You need bigger wins to get the thrill a small payout once delivered.
- Persistence. You try to reduce your gambling. You may even try to quit. But you can’t make it stick. You feel restless or angry when you’re not playing.
- Avoidance. You use gambling to help you stop thinking about issues that upset you.
- Deception. You try to cover up your losses by gambling more, to win back the missing amount. You lie to family members and friends about your gambling.
Researchers say an addiction to gambling is very similar to an addiction to drugs. Both involve a hit of dopamine deep within brain cells. Whether you take a shot of whiskey or win $10, the dopamine release is the same.
In time, your mind relies on that dopamine to function properly. Without it, you feel jittery and irritable. And you may be at risk for relapse without help.
Gambling addiction treatment programs may help you control your urge to chase a win. With help, you may walk by an Illinois gambling opportunity without feeling tempted to take advantage. But these legislative changes could mean you’ll need more willpower, as you’ll be walking by many of these facilities every day.