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New Gambling Expansion Plan Fails In Illinois House

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) -- The Illinois House has voted down the latest proposal to expand gambling in Illinois.

The newest measure failed by a 58-53 vote in the House on Wednesday, although the sponsor was able to pull it back for another possible vote later. Several House members were not on the floor at the time of the vote.

The new gambling legislation would need 60 votes to pass and 71 votes to survive a likely veto by Gov. Pat Quinn.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Dave Dahl reports


"Obviously we're rather disappointed in it. We're very disappointed, but we do want to thank all the people who spent so many hours and put so much effort into trying to get a jobs bill passed in the state of Illinois," said Richard Duchossois, owner of Arlington Park racetrack, which had been pushing to allow slot machines at Illinois racetracks. "This is probably a defeat for jobs. We're sorry about that, but we'll keep on working."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has made a strong push for a Chicago casino and said he has high hopes for the compromise, calling it an "honest compromise."

Earlier this year, the House approved a broader gambling plan with 65 votes, but that version has been sitting in legislative limbo due to Quinn's promise to veto the legislation.

The primary sticking point has been Quinn's opposition to allowing slot machines at Illinois racetracks. Sponsors of the gambling expansion plan have said slots at the tracks are needed to get enough votes for the bill.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) crafted a new measure that cuts down the number of allowable gambling positions at new and existing casinos from 2,000 to 1,600, with 4,000 still allowed in Chicago.

The proposal retains the plan for five new casinos – one in the city of Chicago, and others in Rockford, Danville, Lake County, and the southern suburbs.

It doesn't allow slot machines at Chicago airports or the state fairgrounds in Springfield, but slot machines at race tracks are back in. That's something on which Lang says he and the governor will never agree.

The proposal also strengthened regulatory oversight of casino gambling to address Quinn's concerns on that issue.

Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe, who had opposed the original gambling plan, denounced the compromise as well.

"It is a pile of junk, there's no question about it. I said the other one was, you know, was junk and you can't make perfume out of garbage," Jaffe said. "It'll take me several weeks to analyze it. It's 400 pages."

Jaffe said it's "totally irresponsible" that lawmakers are trying to push the revised gambling plan through in a matter of a few days.

It wasn't immediately clear if Lang would call the new gambling bill for another vote when more House members are present, but given the count on Wednesday, he'd need several lawmakers to change their minds to pass the bill with a veto-proof majority.

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