Bob Rita Makes Another Push For Gambling Expansion

May 12, 2014

Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), worries the Casino Queen in East St. Louis is too close to horse racing track, Fairmont Park, in Collinsville, and thus would exclude Fairmont from slot machines.
Credit Paul Sableman (pasa47) via Flickr

  While Illinois lawmakers continue to debate whether to extend the income tax increase. But that's not the only source of money being considered. Backers of expanding gambling also project the state would get a windfall.

State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) is once again taking a stab at gambling expansion.

He's got two options: Either authorizing a casino for Chicago, or a broader plan that would put casinos in Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs. Horse race tracks would also be permitted to have slot machines.

Except for one. Rita's plan currently excludes Fairmont Park, in Collinsville, near the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

Fairmont says the exclusion is unfair; the Casino Queen fears cannibalization of its clientele. Now, Rita wants legislators in that part of the state to work out an agreement.

"It's an issue that we need to resolve, whether it's through revenue sharing, maybe reduced slots," he said.

"The answer is sort of unclear, but my hope is that the entities would come together to get a compromise that would address this real problem.”

He says other challenges include a debate over how many gaming positions to allow, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's insistence the city's pension issues be resolved before he'll address a casino.