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Gambling Expansion Bill Awaits Quinn's Signature. We've Been Here Before.

By Chris Bentley in News on Jul 26, 2012 9:20PM

With gambling legislation awaiting his signature, what's Gov. Pat Quinn to do? Added jobs and revenue are the rallying cries for those in support of the gambling expansion bill, but opponents contest those claims and say money spent on gambling is money diverted from other parts of the state’s economy.

The bill would authorize five new casinos and install slot machines at six racetracks, nearly tripling the total number of gambling positions in Illinois. House legislators passed the bill 69-47, two votes short of a veto-proof majority. Uncertainty surrounding the bill’s future may have been behind Elgin's decision to hold off on building an entertainment venue next to its riverboat gambling facility.

Yet the gambling expansion debate continues, as communities around the state mull over video gambling machines. Illinois approved video gambling in 2009, flagging funds for state construction projects. But more than 100 communities so far have banned the devices.

That fight continues in Quincy, Ill., a home-rule community that borders Missouri. Quincy does not “permit or license any gambling device of any nature whatsoever,” but some in city council are making the economic case for an exception to that rule. Fox River Grove recently joined Springfield, Bloomington, Marengo, Huntley, Johnsburg and others in explicitly permitting video gambling.