Illinois to salvage gambling expansion bill but don’t bet on it just yet

TAGs: Chicago, Illinois

The odds are getting slimmer for casino proponents in Chicago after a bill seeking to expand gambling in Illinois failed to get enough support from state lawmakers.

Illinois to salvage gambling expansion bill but don’t bet on it just yetProponents of Senate Bill 7 (SB7) suffered a major setback after an Illinois House of Representatives panel thumbed down plans to expand gambling in the state, The Chicago Sun Times reported.

In summary, SB7 seeks to add six new casinos in Chicago, the South Suburbs, Williamson County, Rockford and Danville, which would bring the state’s total number of land-based casinos to 16.

SB7 would also amend the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 and the Riverboat Gambling Act to authorize electronic gaming at race tracks. The measure will also allow for increased winnings on video gaming and additional gambling, including slot machines, at horse racing tracks. The measure also included placeholder language to authorize fantasy sports betting, internet gaming and sports betting.

Unfortunately, while SB7 was approved in the House committee on Monday by a vote of 5-4, six votes were needed to advance the bill to the House floor.

State Sen. Terry Link expressed his disappointment that the measure came up short in the House committee, saying the expansion was a “win-win situation” in terms of replenishing state coffers without putting additional tax burdens on constituents.

“You have to remember … all of this was illegal at one time in the state of Illinois. No one anticipated the casinos making the kind of money that they made from the beginning. No one anticipated what the video poker is making, that they would make,” Link pointed out, according to the news outlet.

All is not yet lost, according to SB7 sponsor Rep. Bob Rita, since he could still make one final push and call the gaming measure for a vote before the General Assembly’s session adjourns on May 31.

Rita’s spokesman Ryan Keith pointed out that SB7 is listed on a committee scheduled on Tuesday morning but he isn’t sure whether it will be tackled that day.

Meanwhile, horse racetrack operators have renewed the appeal to lawmakers to save them from extinction by passing the gambling expansion bill. Arlington International Racecourse General Manager Tony Petrillo believes that the measure will help reverse the decline of the industry and may provide 1,200 to 1,500 jobs for the residents.

Illinois may also earn another $100 million in annual tax revenue should the lawmakers approve the bill, according to Petrillo.


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