Thousands opt out of gambling in Illinois

July 21, 2011 4:25:47 PM PDT
The opening of a new casino this week in Des Plaines signals the latest spread of legalized gambling in Illinois. But not everyone is applauding.

In this Intelligence Report: The I-Team has obtained new data that reveals there are thousands Illinois gamblers who want no part of the action.

For some people, gambling can become as addictive as alcohol or drugs, and just as damaging to careers and families. Nearly 10 years ago, the Illinois Gaming Board began a program of voluntary self-exclusion. Problem gamblers sign up with the state so that they can be kept out of casinos, and according to the latest figures obtained by the I-Team, thousands of people here have self-excluded.

When the national anthem signaled the opening of Illinois' newest casino this week, the mayor of Des Plaines saw dollar signs. More than 1,000 casino employees saw new jobs. And the patrons who lined up to get in just hoped to see a good time.

But, as the state's 10th gaming license went into play and the state looks at new gambling venues, more than 8,300 people in Illinois held their breath. That is how many problem gamblers have signed up for the gaming board's self-exclusion program.

Casino employees are paid bounties of up to $500 per self-excluded gambler that they catch on the floor. The law allows them to be charged with trespassing and any money they have won is seized.

"Even if you hit the biggest jackpot that the boat offers, you can't have that money, because once you go to collect those winnings it triggers their self-exclusion list, and if you're on there, you don't get the money," said Illinois Council on Problem Gambling's Bill Johnson.

That money seized from self-excluded gamblers amounts to almost a million dollars a year. Johnson says that is the state's only contribution to gambling addiction treatment programs, help groups that depend also on donations and corporate sponsorships.

In nine years since the self-exclusion programs started, the three Illinois gambling addiction programs together have received less than $1 million to help those who want help:

  • Outreach Foundation: $374,000
  • Illinois Council on Problem Gambling: $331,420
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery: $243,447

Experts on pathological gambling say they expect even more gambling addicts in Illinois as the state adds casinos, slot machines and video poker.

"I don't think problem gamblers are good for the industry or the community," Johnson said.

For gambling addiction programs, help from the state is not likely. Even as the General Assembly has approved a Chicago casino and wide expansion of gambling venues across the state, there are no plans to fund the fallout effects from all those new gamblers who become compulsive.

Enrollment sites for participating in the Self-Exclusion Program

No fees are charged for enrolling in the Illinois Gaming Board Voluntary Self-Exclusion Program for Problem Gamblers.

It is recommended persons seeking to enroll contact the following locations to schedule an appointment.

  • The Outreach Foundation at 6912 Main Street, Downers Grove. Call (630) 434-2444 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • The Share Program, 1776 Moon Lake Boulevard, Hoffman Estates, IL. Call (847) 882-4181 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at The Abbey, 1401 Central Avenue, Bettendorf, IA. Call (563) 355-4707 to Self-Exclude.
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Ingalls Memorial Hospital, Harvey, IL, Call (708) 915-4090 to Self-Exclude. This site is open 24-hours.
  • Substance Abuse Services Center, 799 Main St., Dubuque, IA. Call (563)582-3784 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Substance Abuse Services Center, 909 W. Main St., Suite 1, Manchester, IA. Call (563)927-5112 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • ADDS Gambling Treatment Services, 320 N. Main Street, Davenport, IA. Call (563) 322-1036 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • ADDS Gambling Treatment Services, 226 W. Main Street, Suite #16, Ottumwa, IA. Call (641) 682-8741 ext. 301 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • ADDS Gambling Treatment Services, 1340 Mt. Pleasant Street, Burlington, IA. Call (319) 753-6567 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • The Fellowship House, 800 Main Street, Anna, IL. Call (618) 833-4456 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Human Resources Development Institute Inc. located at 222 S. Jefferson Avenue, Chicago, IL. Call (312) 441-9009 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Renz Addiction Counseling Center, Two American Way, Elgin, IL. Call (847) 742-3545 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Northern Illinois Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse (Nicasa), 31979 N. Fish Lake Road, Round Lake, IL. Call (847) 546-6450 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Way Back Inn, 104 Oak Street, Maywood, IL. Call (708) 345-8422 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, Proctor Hospital, 5409 North Knoxville, Peoria, IL. Call (800) 522-3784 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, BroMenn Regional Medical Center, Virgina and Franklin avenues, Normal, IL. Call (309) 888-0993 to set up an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Loretto Hospital Addiction Center, 645 South Central Avenue, Chicago, IL. Call (773) 854-5401 to schedule an appointment to Self-Exclude.
  • Source: Illinois Gaming Board


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