More cities looking to roll the dice on urban casinos

As Cincinnati moves forward with its new casino in Pendleton, Chicagoans are dealing with a political setback that is preventing a casino from operating in Illinois’ biggest city. While Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) supports the idea, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) is concerned expanded gambling could open “loopholes for mobsters.” More from Next American City:

Emanuel insists that a downtown casino is so lucrative an economic development tool that any delay in construction is depriving the city of valuable tourist dollars and a new source of educational funds.

The debate is just the latest in a decades-long controversy over what role, if any, casinos can play in the revival of America’s cities. The economic downturn has given states an impetus to open up new sources of revenue, with gambling often viewed as low-hanging fruit. Twelve states have expanded gambling options in the last three years, 22 now permit commercial casinos (up from two in 1974), and Hawaii’s legislature is currently considering plans that would leave Utah as the sole state without some form of legalized gambling.

Depending on the outcome of the political struggle, Chicago could supersede Philadelphia as the largest American city with legalized gambling.

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