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Health Advocates Make a Case for Casino Revenues

(Photo by Jeff Kubina)

As American cities continue to flirt with legalizing casinos, one Chicago nonprofit is raising its hand for potential gaming revenues in the Windy City.

A new report from the Health & Disabilities Advocates makes the case that since depression, alcohol and other health risks can be linked to gambling, income from casinos, if any were to ever open in Chicago, should help fund the city’s struggling mental health system.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business:

Illinois’ spending on mental health declined $187 million from 2009-12, and another $82 million in cuts now is on the table, the report said. State lawmakers have yet to pass a budget for a fiscal year that began two months ago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that if Chicago did allow casinos, revenue would likely be funneled toward the city’s police and firefighter pension funds. But mental healthcare advocates argue that they have a dire need too.

“Public services in Illinois statewide are underfunded for the most part, but they are particularly underfunded when it comes to things like mental health,” Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, told Crain’s.

Undoubtedly, there’d be a long line for a cut of funds should the city ever get gambling, which, experts say, is a long shot at best.