Given the state’s dire fiscal situation, the conversation around gaming in Illinois is as critical as ever. One of the most important points in this debate should be the meaningful results that video gaming has achieved for the state and municipalities since 2012.

As of April 2015, the video gaming industry has generated $315 million for the state and $63 million for municipalities. At the state level, these revenues help fund vital capital projects. For towns across Illinois, video gaming revenues allow leaders to hire police and fire personnel, fix deteriorating infrastructure, allocate additional money for resident services and just help pay the bills. In February, one local leader said video gaming revenues could help his town build a little league field for kids to play ball close to home.

The economic impact of video gaming on local municipalities extends far beyond strictly gaming revenues, as well. Video gaming businesses pay property taxes, payroll taxes, generate construction and rental revenues, create jobs and bring in residents from neighboring towns. It adds up and makes a difference in towns facing drastic funding cuts and deficits.

If given the opportunity to expand and mature based on market demands, the gaming industry – and especially video gaming – has significant capacity for growth and the ability to generate many millions of dollars in vital tax revenues for Illinois. As debates continue in Springfield, the video gaming industry looks forward to being a part of this conversation with lawmakers.

Dan Fischer, Charity Johns and Mike Thiessen
Illinois Retail Gaming & Operators Association

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How to put an end to endless campaigns

I read recently that in Great Britain they changed the rules surrounding political campaigns and have limited them to six weeks prior to an election. The Brits have decided that this is ample time to evaluate a candidate.

The British have also limited the amount that can be spent on political campaigns to around $33 million. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, both parties spent almost $1.7 billion, almost double what was spent in 2004. And this does not include any state or local races.

During these endless political campaigns we are absolutely overwhelmed by political ads, most of which are negative, counterproductive and scurrilous. When our elections are finally done we are all imbued with a wash of relief from the constant and unnecessary smears. We’re worn out from the negativity.

We can do better. We can require our elections to be brief and to the point, resplendent with open and honest debates. We can and must put a stop to the massive build up of campaign war chests by both sides. This pile of campaign money could clearly be put to better use.

Let’s put a stop the endless campaign seasons. Our time, energy and money could certainly put to better use.

Then we should enact term limits.

Mike Simon, Glen Ellyn