Just this past summer, my little suburb of Park Ridge experienced a new thrill: the opening of the Rivers Casino, in Des Plaines, a block away form Park Ridge borders. Five minutes away from my high school and my home, I thought, “Great! A new place to go out to with my friends and it’s so close to home.”
Not everyone shared my sentiments though. My parents shook their heads as I told them about the huge new space, which includes a giant bar in the center, hundreds of slots machines, high-end restaurants and even a nightclub all behind the shiny new doors.
“It’s a disgrace,” my dad says. “I remember when people thought it was ridiculous to have a casino anywhere near the suburbs or the city.”
My excitement dampened a bit by my parent’s disdain, I decided to do a little research into the pros and cons of such establishments.
The positive thing about casinos is the money. New businesses, new job openings, new revenue coming in, can all provide a huge economic boost to the city it’s located in. Increased tourism and population also brings in more revenue. Many casinos offer job opportunities at the restaurants, bars and game tables located inside all need to be staffed by people. In a time where many people are losing or have lost jobs, the opportunities for being hired are important.
Casinos need massive amounts of products in order to operate. This includes liquor, food, beverages, supplies, furnishing and equipments, all which funnels money straight back into local economies.
Since casinos are basically a one-stop playground for adults, local small businesses could suffer as a result. People will be more likely to go to the casino where they can play games, eat and drink all at once, rather than go to a sit-down dinner at a local diner.
Also, with increased visitors and tourism, comes an increase in crime and “strangers.” And of course, there’s the fact that casinos are a gateway to gambling addiction. With all the bright lights and excitement, it’s hard not to get sucked into the games.
Whether on one side of the fence or the other, it’s a fact that casinos are on the rise, and it seems like they’re here to stay. My thoughts on casinos: enter with caution. Yes, casinos do offer some attractions and a fun night out. But the problem with them is that fact that it’s so easy to get caught up in their money spending traps.
If you feel that you or a family member or friend are experiencing problems with gambling that are affecting your every day life, make sure to seek help. The National Council on Problem Gambling has a 24-hour confidential national hotline, which can be called at anytime. More information can be found at their web site http://www.ncpgambling.org.
– Katherine Kulpa, Editor-in-Chief