Evanston’s Human Services Committee is scheduled Monday to discuss whether to lift the city’s ban on gambling establishments.

The measure, proposed by Ald. Devon Reid (8th), would apparently open the door to the establishment of video gaming parlors in Evanston.

Such establishments are legal under state law as long as they are also permited under local ordinances.

Reports from the Illinois Gaming Board indicate that some municipalities that have legalized video gaming are seeing significant revenue from them.

For example, in the 12 months ending in March, Niles netted just under $1 million in local tax revenue from the nearly $20 million lost by gamblers at the 31 video gambling establishments in that community.

That’s up from $377,400 during the village’s 2018-19 fiscal year. Niles devotes most of its video gambling revenue to police and fire pension payments.

Morton Grove earned $425,000 in video gambling revenue in the 12 months ending in March.

The communities surrounding Evanston — Chicago, Skokie and Wilmette — do not permit video gambling. But both candidates in Chicago’s recent mayoral runoff election said they support legalizing video gambling machines there.

Other, generally more upscale area communities, including Glencoe, Highland Park, Glenview, Northbrook and Winnetka, have opted not to jump on the video gaming money train.

Opponents of video gambling establishments argue that they increase the chances that residents of an area will become addicted to gambling.

Four years ago ProPublica reported that since Illinois legalized what the investigation called the “crack cocaine of gambling” in 2012, gamblers have lost more than $5 billion, but the state has failed to address the issue of gambling addiction in any meaningful way.

And studies indicate that poor people have far higher rates of gambling than the general population.

ProPublica’s report also argues that video gambling, far from creating the promised windfall for government, has led to a decline in funding for education.

Reid’s proposal would also distinguish between gambling on private and public property — and reduce or eliminate enforcement of restrictions on gambling that occurs on private property.

The police department has indicated that it does not recommend modifying the city code to make a distinction between gambling on private and public property.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Something is missing from this story….Niles netted 1M in taxes on 20M lost by gamblers…..where did the other 19M go? Who are the winners here? We know that gambling addicts and poorer folks in general are the losers. Who is Devon Reid representing?? I so disapprove, and wish Mr Reid to be voted off the city council on the earliest possible date.

  2. Pardon me, but my comment from the “Magic Mushrooms” article also applies to this article:

    “Another hair brain equity/social justice antic from Reid that only serves to distract and waste the time of our Human Services Committee.

    Council member Reid, time to put on your adult pants and start tackling the real issues facing the majority of Evanston.”

    Seems as though Reid is addicted to promoting and enabling further addictions. What the heck?

  3. What a legitimately terrible, terrible idea. You get the sense that some of our Alders truly hate Evanston.

  4. How about a couple slot machines outside council chambers? Might provide a needed distraction from what’s going on inside

  5. So glad Devon Reid is continually making himself look like a moron. That will make it so easy for whoever runs against him.

  6. What’s next more Payday Loan stores? We do not want that trash here. Evanston, this what is happens when you don’t vote or you allow yourself to be duped into voting for grifters like Reid. Reid does not have a mandate, only 429 of the 8845 residents in our ward voted for the man. Quit obsessing over national news headlines and pay attention to local politics instead, otherwise clowns like Reid will continue to run this city!

  7. Evanston is suffering from Devon Reid’s endless shenanigans that waste time and resources.

  8. If one is interested in making a bet, look no further than a news article by Evanston Now titled “Alder wants to take a gamble on gambling”. Respectfully, did anyone think it would be an Evanston alderperson other than Devon Reid submitting the proposal?
    Perhaps a video poker, all topless, magic mushroom, cannabis lounge would be the way to go. Sort of a one-size-fits-all over-and-done-with approach.
    Seriously, I remain hopeful that someday Mr. Reid submits a recommendation that’s positive, beneficial, and reflective of the values shared by most Evanston residents and business communities.

    1. Rafael, don’t forget the burglar tools and rock throwing at that really cool lounge you described. Reid sure has his finger on the pulse of what this Ward and City need!

  9. Didn’t the council pass some provision that a proposal had to have two sponsors? When is SNL coming to do a show here?

  10. Clearly serious, focused government in Evanston is broken when an unqualified individual with an unending string of inflammatory, destructive proposals can be elected (poor voter turnout and a narrow majority is not representative) to a council, and then hold overweighted sway, is not self-modulated, not checked by peers or the mayor, and cannot be recalled.

    This individual must not be allowed to continue one more day as a alder.

    Step up council and mayor!

  11. Mr. Reid needs a slot machine that gives out drivers licensees. Wasn’t he arrested twice for driving on a suspended license? In his favorite place, Wilmette, all the city council runs at large. He will never be voted out, until a voter referendum is passes to abolish aldermen, and force them to represent everyone.

  12. There is a very important financial issue pertaining to losing money at casinos
    that goes beyond the tables and slots. While accompanying my male partner
    who was able to afford regularly engaging in slots at casinos across the country,
    I witnessed the additional financial burden for gamblers of questionable means
    who don’t choose to stop “playing”, often using casino bank ‘cash machines’ that
    disburse against credit cards- posting a very visible notice on the screen:
    Bank interest rate charge on total cash by using this service is 30%. Not
    surprising to read that financially upscale, well-educated communities have
    chosen to refrain from adding a casino to their entertainment. CH

  13. I find it hard t believe that Niles only gets 5% of the gambling revenue. That seems incredibly low. Maybe Evanston will be able to negotiate a better deal!!!!!!!

  14. The proposal makes perfect sense if the one proposing stands to gain personally from it. He needs to go on record about any conflicts before this goes further.

  15. Reid appears incapable of original thought. Most, if not all of his lame-brain proposals come from elsewhere. This latest “spitball” for video gaming machines comes from the new mayor of our big city neighbor to the south, whom I’m sure Reid must idolize.

  16. The mayor needs to make a statement. Alderman Reid is making a mockery of Evanston. I think it is time we recall Alderman Reid and perhaps Mayor Biss.

  17. Devon Reid appears to trigger and infuriate many Boomer NIMBYs. For that reason alone, I like Devon Reid!

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