Illinois Panel OKs More Gambling
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Legislation that would bring a riverboat casino to Chicago and gambling to corner bars and restaurants across Illinois cleared a House committee Friday.
The bills are part of a massive gambling expansion plan that, if passed, would extend gaming and help fill the state’s budget deficit.
The legislation easily passed the House Gaming Committee and moved to the House floor.
Committee chairman Rep. Lou Lang predicted the bills would generate more than $2.5 billion for the state. Critics fear the radical expansion of legal gambling will lead to more addiction and crime.
Under one bill, Chicago would be allowed to own a riverboat casino with 4,000 slot machines. Another bill would legalize 47,000 video poker machines at bars and restaurants statewide. A third bill approved by the committee last week would allow slot machines at horse tracks, and enable the state’s existing casinos to add hundreds more slot machines.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich had campaigned on a promise to not expand gambling but has since backed away from that stance, saying he would consider any proposal by the Legislature considering the $5 billion budget deficit.