* 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.