* Mayor Davlin mentioned this idea to me a week ago, but it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere, although Davlin was very hot on the concept…
[Rep. Raymond Poe], a Springfield Republican, is pushing the idea of holding harness races — and the betting that goes with them — at the Illinois State Fairgrounds beyond the limited run of the 10-day fair itself.
“The facility is there,” Poe said. “Someone could come in and make it work. I think it would be a great revenue source.”
Poe’s idea has already been raised in gaming discussions between House Minority Leader Tom Cross, R-Oswego, and House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.
“I brought it up with the speaker,” Cross said Wednesday. “It was not rejected.”
But neither is it on the front burner, Cross said. A number of other gambling issues have been on the table longer, and negotiators think they are closer to resolving those without injecting a new element into the debate.
The racing wouldn’t be year-round, but I’m wondering whether they’d put a year-round “racino” at the facility, with slot machines, etc. They could really upgrade the fairgrounds with revenue like that. Plus, it would give us somewhere else to go after long session days.
* Meanwhile, the Sun-Times editorial board comes out all the way for expanding gamling…
Experts will tell you gambling is a lousy way for the state to raise money. It’s not stable, doesn’t grow with the economy and isn’t progressive. But gambling is the only revenue-raising plan with a prayer of passing, and even then, it’s a long shot. Unfortunately, our hopes have to rest on a gambling boom to avert the CTA’s day of doom.