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Cashing Out: Stateliners Spend More on Video Gaming

The Illinois Gaming Board says that people playing the video slots lost more than $5 million in Rockford, more than any other city in Illinois. Loves Park ranked third with people losing more than $3 million. It shows that there might be interest in a casino, but makes lawmakers concerned about lost sales tax revenue.

ROCKFORD--If it seems like it's everywhere, you're right. Video Gaming is everywhere along the stateline. It's for one obvious reason.

"Well I like the extra income from it," says Ralph Olson, owner of the Town Hall Lounge in Loves Park

All that money going into the slots could be going to other local business. That's a big problem for two Stateline communities.

"Not only are we losing money, thru the gambling sources, but where losing money through sales tax revenue," says Rockford 10th Ward Alderman Frank Beach. "I think that not only are we seeing that but if you have to study that out, you'd find that true with other major cities around our state."

According to an Illinois Gaming Board study from a nine-month period ranging from October 2012 until this past July, two of the top three cities come from the area. Rockford takes the top spot with more than $5.8 million lost by people playing video slots. Loves Park ranks third statewide with nearly $3.4 million lost. Springfield, Decatur and Bloomington round out the top five cities.

"Well it doesn't surprise me at all," Beach says about Rockford's inclusion.

"That money is 'money in, money out, money back in.' so they're winning and putting it back in," says Olson, the 14-year bar owner who just installed the slots in February. "That's what it amounts to so that's why I think it gets that high."

With more slots being put in everyday, the pie isn't getting bigger. Oversaturation is slowing business.

"When I started out, I was probably making 2,000 a month more than what I am now," says Olson. "Mine have already showed a decrease from more machines being in the area."

Gambling opponents look at the liquor license process as a way to slow the slots.

"I believe perhaps that some control could go there," says Beach. "Because they have to have a liquor license in order to get a gaming license."

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