To the Editor:

Desperate people do desperate things. The state of Illinois has a budget deficit, and instead of reducing spending, it is desperate to raise taxes and invent new taxes.

One "new" tax is allowing video gambling in establishments that serve alcohol, with 25 percent of the money going to the State, 5 percent to the municipality, 35 percent to the bar owner, and 35 percent to the equipment owner. Each establishment (e.g. bar, restaurant, lodge) would be allowed five video gambling (video poker or blackjack) machines.

Each community in Illinois must now decide whether to allow expanded video gambling. Since early June, city councils have been making decisions. Over 200 communities in Illinois, including most suburbs, the city of Chicago and unincorporated Cook County, have said NO to video gambling.

Bethalto, Granite City and Pontoon Beach have recently voted to allow video gambling. Glen Carbon and Maryville just voted to reject video gambling. Edwardsville will likely reject it next week. Collinsville has decided to put a referendum on the November ballot.

Does expanded video gambling make sense? Proponents of video gambling have told Collinsville that its "cut" will amount to $300,000. But let's think about that.

For Collinsville to get $300,000, people in Collinsville would have to lose $6 million. That's $6 million not spent on food, rent, clothing, etc. Does this make sense?

Is video gambling good for families? It is good for children? Will video poker and blackjack machines attract business and jobs to Madison County?

Each municipality is making a decision. People should know what's going on, and share their thoughts with their elected officials.

Kurt Prenzler
Madison County Treasurer

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