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Rita presents new gaming expansion outline

Thursday, Mar 13, 2014

* Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) has come up with some new tweaks to the long-stalled gaming bill. From a press release…

Rita, D-Blue Island, is filing the two amendments to Senate Bill 1739 after months of work on the issue, including hearings in East St. Louis and Tinley Park during this spring session. The amendments would:

    * Authorize a state-owned Chicago casino with between 4,000 and 10,000 positions

    * Call for sharing of revenue from that Chicago casino with Cook County, south suburban communities and state government

    * Limit spending from gambling revenue to education and capital construction projects at the state level and capital and pensions at the local levels

    * Authorize casinos in Lake, Winnebago, Vermilion counties and the south suburbs, but with fewer positions than allowed in previous expansion bills

    * Allow gaming positions at horse racing tracks except for in the Metro East, and at half of the number of gaming positions called for in previous expansion bills

    * Eliminate spending on specialty funds as called for in previous expansion bills, except for $5 million to combat gambling addiction that remains in the bill

Rita emphasized that these amendments, filed as legislators return to Springfield next week, are intended to move the conversation forward on gambling expansion this spring. The earlier hearings showed significant divides in the St. Louis area on the impact of adding slot machines at Fairmount Park on gambling at the Casino Queen in St. Louis, and similar disputes over which communities should receive a casino in the south suburbs of Chicago and how casino money should be shared among those communities. How a Chicago-owned casino would be regulated has also stalled previous expansion pushes.

“I have spent time thinking about how we start to address these and other problems slowing down a gambling expansion bill in Springfield. I think the best way to do that is to simplify our efforts. Let’s scale back the size of our bill and refocus our attention on what matters most here: creating a strong revenue source for our state and communities and putting people to work. These new amendments accomplish both of those goals. I look forward to having a robust discussion about these ideas and working with my colleagues on a solution now,” Rita said.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:43 pm:

    –* Authorize a state-owned Chicago casino–

    So no city-owned casino for Rahm? I guess he doesn’t get to pick where it’s located then, either.

  2. - Formerly Know As... - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    Pulling a few thorns off a thistle bush does not transform it into a rose.

    This remains a thistle bush, same as last year and the year before.

  3. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:54 pm:


  4. - DuPage - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    Someone once pointed out the south suburbs could use a casino to attract locals heading across to Indiana, keeping revenue and jobs in the area. I think they might have a valid point. A Chicago casino would not be much help to the south suburbs.

  5. - pyrman - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    Do you know if Fairmont Park would share in the revenues from other tracks or casinos? If no this bill is a death sentence for FP.

  6. - Wally - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:00 pm:

    They need to add online poker, could be a real boon for the state coffers

  7. - fed up - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:16 pm:

    Adding video gaming at the Airports would be a good revenue source for city transportation projects.

  8. - King Loius XVI - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:19 pm:


  9. - Hans Sanity - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    Balmoral Park has the space for slots and tables.

    Plenty of other states combine horse racing with casinos.

  10. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    Seems bold of Rep. Rita to propose that the state, instead of the city, would own the casino.

    Either way, this always has made me a tad nervous. While it would seem that owning the casino would mean govt. could keep the profits for itself (in other words, less spending cuts needed in budgeting), not all casinos make money.

    I’d think a Chicago-based one would make money, but cross Rahm with a state-owned casino, and I wonder if he’d figure a way to make things difficult?

  11. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    ==They need to add online poker, could be a real boon for the state coffers==
    Agree. That would be a good way to raise revenue.

  12. - A guy... - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    Same pig, new blanket.

  13. - x ace - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    To me, based on just the above summary, it seems like a logical attempt at compromise.

    As to Fairmount Park’s demise , unlikely that much sympathy will be extended. Leadership and management there have been questionable and lacking for quite some time. Doubt that they could derail the proposal.

    Wouldn’t want to bet on it passing. But it does appear to be a viable attempt at compromise.

  14. - Ghost of John Brown - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    If the bill requires that spending be limited to education and transportation what would prevent a decrease in spending to those two categories from other sources? Wouldn’t the legislature be able to take X million out of the education line item going to education to match the X million additional funds from gambling for education? Seems like everyone heard a similar idea about the lottery years ago.

  15. - railrat - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    Mr. Brown, spot on ! the words that always fail the concept(s) DEDICATED !!!! only Fuller Brush has more brooms than the Springpatch

  16. - Hans Sanity - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:29 pm:

    I’m sure the rights to run a state owned casino would be sold to the highest campaign donater…er, bidder, within 7 years.

  17. - RonOglesby - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 4:40 pm:

    Do government owned casino’s work? I mean Illinois and Chicago aren’t exactly known for great management and of course cronyism is rampant and would be in a state owned ANYTHING…

    But they could also bow to political pressure like no one’s business. I mean if they are generating a big profit, at what point to people start crying the State is taking too much money from those poor gamblers?

    Is there a history of this somewhere I am unaware of?

  18. - DuPage Dave - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 7:23 pm:

    The existing casinos are not doing well. There’s no business reason to add more casinos. The newer ones squeeze out the older ones.

    The only good point is that a casino in Chicago might put the one in Indiana out of business.

  19. - plutocrat03 - Thursday, Mar 13, 14 @ 8:21 pm:


  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 8:20 am:

    For any new revenue generating projects: 100% of the revenue for one year, should go into the pension fund. 50% for the second year and 25% for the third. Would not take long to correct the problem created by the leaders of this fair state.

  21. - Roger - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    Fairmount Park was here LONG before the Casinos.
    The Casino Queen came to town and took a big chunk of the gambling dollar from Fairmount Park. The track is only allowed to race so many days a year.
    The Casino is allowed to be open everyday 365 days a year. Slots at the track is the only fair way for the track to have the same opportunity to exist. If the track doesnt get the slot machines, I will boycott Casino Queen and never go there again.

  22. - Boss Hogg - Friday, Mar 14, 14 @ 3:34 pm:

    Rita knows this won’t fly, just a ploy to buy more time & FP & Haw. time has ran out!! Congrats to all these track reps and political figures to putting 1000’s of hard working people out of work!

  23. - peeon - Monday, Mar 17, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    the race tracks has been here a long time. the casinos took away from them.We need jobs. there is a lot a jobs to be lost and i don’t think that’s fair

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