Chicago may soon become the next large city in the United States to legalize gambling within its limits. Across the U.S., a substantial number of states and cities have legalized gambling in recent years, despite an ongoing debate over the pros and cons of their effect on crime rates, surrounding property values, and municipal coffers. "The debate is just the latest in a decades-long controversy over what role, if any, casinos can play in the revival of America's cities," says Next American City's Ryan Briggs.
"The economic downturn has given states an impetus to open up new sources of revenue, with gambling often viewed as low-hanging fruit," states Briggs. "Twelve states have expanded gambling options in the last three years, 22 now permit commercial casinos (up from two in 1974)..." Yet concerns remain. Many urban casinos have had their fair share of issues, such as Philadelphia's Sugarhouse, which has underperformed since its opening.