(KMOV) – Numbers from the Illinois Gaming Board show a 300-percent spike from January to April 2013 after slot and poker machines are being installed at local bars and establishments across the Metro East.
April had $8.9 million played and $703,000 lost. January had $2.7 million played and $212,000 lost.
One chain, Lucy's has already has about ten locations in Illinois and is planning 13 more places according to its website. Alton, Granite City and Fairview Heightsts seem to be the high volume areas.
The state is trying to have tight control on the gambling limit but gambling addiction experts say this is making losing money all too easy and convenient.
Bar owners say the machines have saved their businesses. Bindy’s in Granite City now has four gaming machines.
Bill Watson, Bindy’s owner says “it’s a form of entertainment. People lose money going to the movies or playing a round of golf, it’s another form of entertainment. Las Vegas wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t a form of entertainment.
When asked if they ever try to stop anybody if they’re spending way too much time playing the games, “I haven’t seen anybody do that, we have a regular crowd and I haven’t seen outsiders come in and play,” Watson said.
Watson said he gets a third of the profit from the machines, another goes to the vendor and the last third from the games goes to the state. He added that five-percent goes to the Granite City Police and Fire Pension Fund.
As revenues rise, addiction experts say they’ll likely see more people losing big money to these new gaming establishments.