Illinois Senate rejected gambling expansion

The Illinois Senate rejected gambling expansion as the week ended that would have put casinos in Park City, Rockford and Chicago, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The expansion would have also allowed slot machines at Illinois racetracks and let the riverboats move inland and become land-based casinos.

But the rejection was a close-run thing at 28 for and 28 against, and because approval requires 30 votes in the 59 seat Senate it did not pass. However, sponsor Terry Link preserved his proposal for a possible second vote by using a procedural technicality to wipe out the roll call.

Link said the added gambling would generate nearly $100 million in the first year for the state and $500 million annually once established.

Senate President John Cullerton, a strong sponsor too, tried to persuade fellow Senators to support the bill. "In a year like this when we need money and no one wants to vote for a tax increase, everybody says, 'what about gaming?" he said. "We need to consider this as an alternative."

Critics said it was simply too much gambling to stomach the day after lawmakers sent a video gambling at bars plan to the governor to help finance road construction.

State Senator Kirk Dillard said the expanded gambling proposal would have made Illinois a bigger gambling state than Nevada or New Jersey, and he was joined by Chicago Senator James Meeks who protested: "It is too much! It is time to stop. We are allowing our state to go down the tube. Video poker. Gaming. Enough is enough!"

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