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The Latest: Casino-expansion link to sports betting planned

May 27, 2019
Rep. Robert Rita D-Blue Island, discusses his plan to expand casino gambling Monday, May 27, 2019 photo, after a committee gave Rita permission to proceed. (John O'Connor/The Associated Press).
Rep. Robert Rita D-Blue Island, discusses his plan to expand casino gambling Monday, May 27, 2019 photo, after a committee gave Rita permission to proceed. (John O'Connor/The Associated Press).

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Latest on the Illinois General Assembly’s action on expanding legalized gambling (all times local):

10:40 a.m.

A House Democrat is reviving a plan to expand casino gambling in Illinois by linking it to a popular sports betting measure.

Blue Island Democratic Rep. Robert Rita got Executive Committee approval Monday to proceed with the long-discussed proposal. It would allow a land-based casino in Chicago and riverboat casinos in Rockford, Lake County, a south suburb of Chicago, Danville and southern Illinois. There would be additional gambling at existing sites including horse racing tracks.

The idea has failed previously for various reasons. But Rita says he’s improving the measure’s chances by tacking it onto legislation to legalize sports betting.

And advocates see the potential tax revenue from new casinos — up to $350 million a year — as vital to financing Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed $41.5 billion state-construction program .

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8:40 a.m.

The long-pursued goal of expanding casino gambling in Illinois is scheduled for a new look by the General Assembly.

The House Executive Committee has scheduled a Monday hearing on legislation sponsored by Rep. Robert Rita. The Blue Island Democrat has not spelled out details. But in the past he has proposed approving casinos in places such as Chicago and Rockford, adding table games at horse racing tracks and establishing sweepstakes games.

The proposal has new urgency. Some lawmakers believe the tax revenue generated would provide a needed boost to funding for Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed $41.5 billion infrastructure-improvement plan.

Rita’s legislation is separate from a still-simmering measure to legalize sports betting.

The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn its spring session on Friday.

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