Ward Room
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Rahm Lobbying Senators for Casino

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Emanuel says he expected other issues to create more interest.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday he's already begun calling state senators to lobby for a Chicago casino.

On Monday, the Illinois House passed a massive gambling package that would open five more casinos in the state, including one within Chicago city limits. It also calls for slot machines at racetracks statewide and the city’s two airports.

Since the 65-50 vote, Emanuel has been on the phone, he said, appealing to lawmakers.

"I urge the Illinois Senate to act swiftly to pass this bill," Emanuel said Monday in a statement. "A Chicago casino will spur local economic growth and provide jobs to Chicagoans, both needed to get our city moving again."

The plan represents the largest expansion of gambling in Illinois since the arrival of riverboat casinos more than 20 years ago.
 
Doug Dobmeyer, spokesman for the Taskforce to Oppose Gambling in Chicago, says the gambling expansion sends a terrible message to residents.

“I don’t care if people gamble or not," Dobmeyer said. "What I’m opposed to is state-sanctioned, state-run gambling, because what it does is it takes money out of people’s pockets that should be used for other things.”

Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who sponsored the bill, said on Monday that creating jobs and helping the state's struggling economy is at the heart of the legislation.

"It does not matter if it’s the gaming industry or the burger industry," Lang said. "We have to keep business in Illinois."

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