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Religious leaders want slowdown in push for Chicago casino

May 29, 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).

CHICAGO (AP) — A number of Chicago religious leaders are urging the city’s mayor and Illinois legislators to slow their push to place a casino in the city.

The pastors said Tuesday they don’t necessarily oppose a casino on principle, but they do want to make sure black and brown communities in Chicago benefit from what emerges from Springfield.

Expanding casino gambling in Illinois got a boost this week when a Democratic lawmaker suggested making it part of a popular plan to legalize sports betting. Rep. Robert Rita of Blue Island says his plan would look similar to past ideas by adding a land-based casino in Chicago and as many as five riverboat casinos around the state.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the door for Illinois and other states to legalize sports wagering by ending a Nevada monopoly.

The Rev. Leon Finney of Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church says he doesn’t want a casino bill to pass without a community benefits analysis. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she’s favors a casino in the city.

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