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Give Locals Video Gaming

I think I’ve found a possible answer to some of Indiana’s local government money problems, video gaming machines.

Allow me to explain.  You see, I was in my home state of Illinois this past weekend taking care of the usual legal business, and while there I spent some time Friday night in one of my favorite watering holes in downtown Springfield, a place called the Brewhaus.  I discovered it when I was a graduate student in the mid-90s.  It was a classic dive bar; gross bathrooms, funny smelling carpet,  the booths that weren’t in the best shape.  But the alcohol was cheap and the people were awesome.

Fast forward nearly 20 years and I noticed some major changes.  New furniture, the old carpet was replaced by wooden floors, you could use the bathroom without wearing a protective HAZMAT suit and they had video poker machines.   Yes, video poker machines that actually paid out.  Because in Illinois, video gaming  in bars is perfectly legal and has been since 2009.  And it’s not just the bars and taverns that benefit by using the proceeds to fix up the place.

According to the Illinois Gaming Board, over the last 12 months,  video gaming has generated hundreds of millions in revenue and $180 million in taxes over the last 12 months for state and local governments, $150 million for the state and $30 million for the locals.  And in the land of tax caps and growing needs, video gaming in bars  just might be what Indiana’s local governments need.   The state already allows pull tabs in bars so this really wouldn’t be an expansion of gaming, just allowing another form to take place on the premises.     And you don’t have to worry about minors being exposed to gaming, since they aren’t supposed to be in a bar in the first place.

By the way, electronic gaming machines are already out there.  According to the Indiana Gaming Commission, since 2011, more than 5,300 illegal gaming machines, i.e. “Cherrymasters” , have been confiscated, either by seizure or voluntary compliance.

Of course a lot of this would fall under whether putting video gaming in bars would be “expansion”, some of us would argue that it isn’t since pull tabs are already allowed, I know how my friends in the Legislature operate.  And the impact on the casinos and horse tracks would have to be figured out as well.

At the very least we can all bet, pardon the pun, that it would make for an interesting discussion.



  • malercous

    C’mon Abdul, don’t use the gambling industry’s term “gaming.” Gaming is playing video or board games like World of Warcraft or monopoly. Gaming is a broad term, Gambling is much more specific & entails risking money. The gambling industry pushes the term “gaming” because it is much more innocuous than “gambling.”
    I don’t gamble, but have no issue with those who do. While it’s annoying to be behind someone at a gas station getting lottery tickets (I need 2 #1’s, 4 # 6’s, etc.), I stifle my aggravation because the lottery helps keep taxes lower for those who can do simple math. Now, if we could figure out a voluntary tax on the illiterate…