The battle between Illinois and Indiana casinos

Due to budget issues, Illinois lawmakers recently approved new five new casinos. But it remains to be seen how the new casinos in Illinois will affect the already-existing casinos in northwest Indiana:

All told, the five casinos [in northwestern Indiana] generated nearly half a billion dollars in tax revenue in 2010.

Five casinos are strung along the Lake Michigan shoreline in some of the Hoosier State’s most economically depressed communities. Ball State University economist Mike Hicks says at least one casino likely would be shut down by increased competition. Some 80 percent of gamblers visit casinos once or twice a year, and choose newer, glitzier options, Hicks said…

Horseshoe spent $400 million to build a brand-new “boat” that is essentially a floating building just three years ago, an investment Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said was made with the prospect of a downtown Chicago casino in mind.

“We wanted to build something that was Chicago-proof,” McDermott said. “I think it’s the best option outside Las Vegas.”

I have to think that the knowledge that this gambling tax revenue was going to Indiana helped motivate Illinois lawmakers to capture some of this money. And I wonder if any politicians were thinking about the talk from Wisconsin, Indiana, New Jersey, and other states months ago regarding encouraging businesses to leave the high taxes of Illinois.

I haven’t seen much talk about many casinos the Chicago area could reasonably support. There are already four, two in Joliet, one in Elgin, and one in Aurora plus the five in northwest Indiana plus more across the borders in Wisconsin and Michigan. And it would be interesting to see how these existing casinos have helped or hurt their communities (and the state government).

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