April 30, 2020

Illinois problem gamblers seek help as state increases gaming

Illinois problem gamblers seek help as state increases gaming

Illinois Gambling legislation has greatly expanded gaming options in the state, bringing gambling into grocery stores, bars, and even laundromats.

Illinois, according to a state official, now hosts 35,748 gaming terminals in 7,290 licensed locations. This is in addition to the 10 casinos and three racetracks it has—a number that exceeds the entirety of Nevada.

Now, an estimated 300,000 problem gamblers in the state are overwhelmed with more gaming advertising and opportunities than ever.

According to state officials, there exists 17 state-funded service providers for gambling addiction. However, the Illinois Department of Human Services website only listed 14—majority of which are located in Chicago.

A report by DePaul’s Center for Journalism Integrity and Excellence discovered that four out of the 14 did not provide gambling addiction services. When reached by phone, these service providers explained that they do not provide services for problem gamblers. State contracts with the four aforementioned providers, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that they were awarded over $350,000 in combined state funding.

For now, there are no research exploring the implications of gambling expansion. Jackie Collins, Illinois state senator, has always voted no on expansion and is worried about the growth of gaming without evaluating the problems that can arise from it.

“They should have done a study or assessment or research, how increasing gaming or expanding gaming, how it impacts communities and how it might impact the state,” Collins said.

Kia Coleman, assistant secretary of programs at the Illinois Department of Human Services, said that there is a needs assessments in place and that it should be completed by March 2021.

“The needs assessment is going to be very valuable in helping us to really specifically pinpoint how we need to allocate our funds,” Coleman said.

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