Renewed Push For Casinos, But Regulators Still Worry About Chicago

Oct 24, 2013

Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday heard from supporters and opponents of allowing more casinos in Illinois. But they're no closer to making a deal.

Gambling was a big issue earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart in May, at the end of the spring legislative session. Since then, attention has moved to other issues, like the state's underfunded pension systems.

On the table are five new casinos — in Chicago and its north and south suburbs, in Rockford, and in Danville. The plan would also allow slot machines at horse racetracks.

Bob Molaro, a lobbyist and former state representative, says the expansion would both create jobs and give the state badly needed tax revenue. He says Illinois is falling behind other states.

"Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, (and) Florida have slots at their racetracks," Molaro says.

Lawmakers, however, have heard all this before.

The sponsor of the gambling plan acknowledged there's nothing new in the negotiations, but he hopes to get them back on track.

The state's gambling regulators still have concerns about whether they would have sufficient authority over what would be a city-owned casino in Chicago.