CHICAGO (AP) - Gamblers at Illinois’ 10 casinos must take a break whether
they like it or not after the state’s gaming board decided Thursday not to
allow them to stay open around the clock.
Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe said at a meeting that a request to allow
casinos open 24 hours a day - two hours longer than current operating hours
- had been denied.
Jaffe said in a brief statement the board heard statements both for and
against expanding the hours and also had received written statements, and
made their decision “having taken into consideration all the information
presented to the board.” Jaffe did not elaborate in his brief statement or
during the meeting, according to spokesman Gene O’Shea.
The Illinois Casino Gaming Association had pushed to extend the hours,
arguing that letting the casinos stay open would bring the casinos
desperately needed revenue and would help prevent gamblers from taking their
business to neighboring states where 24-hour gambling is allowed. In East
St. Louis, for example, the casino is open between 8 a.m. and 6 a.m., while
just across the Mississippi River, the four casinos are always open.
Further, the group has said that extending the 22-hour maximum levels the
playing field with video machines that operate 24 hours a day at truck
Association spokesman Tom Swoik has said that extending the hours would add
about $5 million in annual state. Since 2007, excluding the newest and most
profitable Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois’ casinos have lost 38
percent in revenue and 2,000 employees, he said.
On the other side, those who argued against extending casino hours say the
two-hour break may be the only thing that prevents a sleepless, endless
binge at slot machines or card tables by gambling addicts.