Ill. House begins debating gambling expansion

November 9, 2011 (CHICAGO)

A vote was expected Wednesday evening on the revised gambling expansion bill that would bring a casino to the city of Chicago.

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed the last gambling measure they passed earlier in the year.

Among the changes in the newer legislation are more control for the state gaming board and fewer slot machine locations.

The revised legislation is a last-ditch effort to deliver to the governor a proposal that he could sign by the end of the year. This revamped version of the major gambling expansion plan passed through a House committee by a vote of 8-2 Tuesday, one of the final days of this fall session.

The measure includes several of the regulatory reforms that the governor has asked for, but it also allows slot machines at racetracks, which is something Quinn strongly opposes.

Because of that, supporters of this latest plan are trying to pass the measure with a veto-proof majority. For the House, that means at least 71 votes. For the Senate, it would be about 36 votes.

The current legislation mirrors one that was proposed earlier. It would allow five new casinos throughout the state, including one in the city of Chicago for the first time. The bill does not include slot machines at airports or the state fairgrounds. It restores authority to the Illinois gaming board and permits 7,000 fewer gaming positions in the state than the earlier bill that was never sent to the governor.

"We've done everything that we could as far as anything that the governor has proposed we enacted into this bill, we did it...and we're going to pass the bill," said Sen. Terry Link, (D) Lincolnshire. "The one thing that we kept in it were slots at the track because that's one part of the bill that we just couldn't take out and pass the bill."

The state gaming board chairman Aaron Jaffe called the revised bill "a piece of junk." And the Senate Republican leader, Christine Radogno, opposed the first measure, says the revisions had not gone far enough.

"To me, it's just too big. That's where I've been all along. So I haven't changed my position on that," said Radogno Wednesday evening. "It's the same number of new gaming facilities, that's a concern."

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