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Rolling The Dice To Expand Gambling In Illinois

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After making several attempts in recent years, supporters are rolling the dice on expanding gambling in Illinois.

And that includes placing a casino in Chicago. Getting approval is once again far from a sure bet.

More from CBS 2 political reporter Derrick Blakley.

Illinois currently has 10 casinos.

But the supporters of expansion insist its not about expansion.

"This is about economic development, creating jobs. It's about bringing revenue into the state," said Representative Bob Rita, D-Blue Island.

The bill would create six new casinos: Rockford, Danville, Marion, Waukegan, the Homewood area and Chicago.

Plus slot machines at O'Hare and Midway as well as casino gambling at Arlington and Hawthorne which horse racing insists it needs to survive.

"We are on the verge of extinction from fierce competition from surrounding states that have horse racing and have casino-type gaming," said Tony Petrillo of Arlington Racecourse.

But the biggest opposition to new casinos came from current casinos who say Illinois already had massive expansion in betting through video gambling.

"In 2017, casinos generated nearly 100 million dollars in less in tax revenue than they did before video gaming," said Tom Slowik of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association.

But Waukegan State Senator Terry Link accused the casinos of crying crocodile tears.

"Suck it up because you're still going to make money in this industry and you know you are," said Link (D-Waukegan.) "They build casinos next door to one another in Vegas and none of them are going out of business."

The proposal doesn't deal with sports betting or internet gambling.

On those topics, Bob Rita said there's no consensus yet on how to move forward.

Still, the expansion plan failed to clear the house gambling sub-committee on a 5-to-4 vote.

Now, Rita plans to made some changes and try again before the session ends later this week.


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