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Gambling Expansion Bill Fails Once Again In Illinois

Legislation Dead For The Spring Session

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Gov. Pat QuinnA bill that would have approved casino gambling expansion has failed to make it out of the Illinois House spring session.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pressing for casino gambling expansion since last summer, saying casino gambling revenue will pay for education, but Gov. Pat Quinn has requested that lawmakers include a comprehensive pension reform plan in the bill before he’ll consider passing it.

“I will never, ever sign a gaming expansion absent comprehensive pension reform,” Gov. Quinn said.

The bill would have approved a Las Vegas-style casino for the city of Chicago and given complete power to the state gaming control board to oversee the project. A previous version of the bill included language that would have licensed and regulated online gaming, but it has since been removed from the piece of legislation.

Aside from the education system benefiting from gambling expansion, proponents also believe it would have brought in at least $1 billion each year in tax revenue and created over 100,000 jobs.

Supporters of the bill are also concerned that residents are crossing the state line to gamble in neighboring cities in Iowa, Michigan and Indiana, giving away potential in-state tax revenue.

Illinois is the fifth largest state in the country with a population of 12.875 million, according to the latest population estimate conducted in July of 2012. There are only seven casinos in the state with poker rooms, 33 poker tables in total, none of which are in Chicago.

To put those numbers in perspective, Pennsylvania has a similar population of 12.763 million with a drastically larger number of poker rooms totaling over 250 poker tables.

“We want to take more time to get this right go through it line-by-line to make sure we do it right,” said House sponsor of the bill Rep. Bob Rita. “I’m announcing hearings for this summer and pushing a responsible, comprehensive bill for the fall veto session.”

For more news and tournament info from Illinois, check out its stage page.