A Chicago-area legislator is trying to re-start negotiations over a big expansion of gambling.
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, according to Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, and nothing has happened on gaming expansion.
So he held a hearing in which people with an interest in gambling could say where they stand. He acknowledges that little has changed since the spring.
Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey has outlined his plan for dividing revenues for a proposed casino. Morrissey wants the city to keep 70 percent of revenues, with the remaining 30 percent going to the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning. State lawmakers are debating a gambling expansion plan that includes a Rockford casino. Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen calls the proposal "one-sided."
For the third time in two years, the Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would allow five new casinos, including one in Rockford.
The difference this time is that Governor Pat Quinn might finally be willing to support the proposal.
The sponsor,Terry Link, D-Waukegan, says he's tried to meet the governor's demands, such as banning campaign donations by gambling license holders. Link also removed a provision that would have allowed online gambling.
Lawmakers quickly proposed another plan to add a casino in Rockford and four other locations. Governor Pat Quinn this week vetoed a gambling expansion plan would have added several new casinos and placed slot machines at horse race tracks. Quinn called the expansion "excessive."
Governor Pat Quinn refuses to be pinned down on what he'll do with legislation that expands gambling in Illinois -- creating five new casinos in cities like Chicago ... Rockford ... and Danville. Gov. Quinn will once again have the opportunity to approve or veto gambling legislation. But unlike past bills, this time it's take-it-or-leave-it -- the legislature won't have the chance to override a potential veto.
The Illinois House, in a 69 to 47 vote, has passed a gambling expansion bill that would create new casinos -- including one in Rockford -- and allow slot machines at the state's racetracks.
Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says it will bring Illinois money it needs as the state faces steep budget cuts. Lang says that, as the budget process progresses, it’s clear the state isn't doing well enough.
“We haven't created enough jobs. We don't have enough revenue," he said. "Is this a panacea for all of our ills? Of course not. Can it be step to build a better economy? Absolutely it can."