No Natives Means More Gambling Revenue For Illinois - NBC Chicago
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No Natives Means More Gambling Revenue For Illinois



    *This draft has changed from the original version.

    Is Illinois guilty of unabashed greed for pursuing legislation to set up more gambling outlets in the state, including the City of Chicago?

    The state has a history of greed, so it would come as no surprise if that was the motivation of proponents such as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the like who want to see slots at racetracks and airports and a casino in downtown Chicago.

    For an example of that greed, just look to this state’s history.

    During the land-grab days of the 1800s, Illinois’ fledgling immigrant population was all-too-happy to grab the ancestral lands of the Sauk, Fox and Illiniwek Native American tribes --- that is, after these European and British settlers had made in-roads into trading.

    In 1804, leaders of the Sauk and Fox tribes struck a deal with the Governor of Indiana Territory to cede their lands in Illinois and move west of the Mississippi.

    The land-grab angered one Native American leader named Black Hawk, and nearly 30 years later he started organizing raids across the Mississippi River.  

    Illinois and Michigan Miltia-men ended up killing Black Hawk and warriors in Wisconsin at the battle of Bad Axe.  
    Because of that abhorrent history, Illinois is now one of the few states with no Indian reservations.

    If Illinois had not expelled its native tribes, those tribes would likely enjoy the benefits of native run casinos and the like. If Illiniwek, Sauk and Fox natives still lived on their ancestral lands, the Illinois legislature might not even be talking about more casinos, because the state would have all the gambling it needed.

    Michigan, for example, has 24 casinos, but only the three in Detroit are regulated by the state. The rest are operated by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawattomi tribes.

    Indian casinos became legal in 1987, after the Supreme Court ruled that tribes are sovereign entities not subject to state gambling laws. Not coincidentally, states began setting up their own casinos shortly after. If the Indians could do it, why shouldn’t they get in the game, too? Illinois legalized riverboat gambling in 1990.

    The closest Indian casinos to Chicago are Potawatomi Bingo in Milwaukee and Four Winds in New Buffalo, Mich. Although Indian-casino slots are often more popular with gamblers, because they can link to nationwide jackpots, both casinos are a long drive for casual gamblers.

    Illinois has an opportunity to reap more money from gambling than most states all because we honed our greed 175 years ago.

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