Cullerton Seeks to End Video Gambling in Illinois

Senate President John Cullerton wants to end video gambling, and increase taxes on cigarettes in Illinois

By Sandra Torres
|  Thursday, Mar 17, 2011  |  Updated 9:42 AM CDT
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Illinois shouldn't buy into video gambling, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton says.

Two years ago, lawmakers approved a measure that would allow video gambling in bars and restaurants throughout the state. It also raised taxes on items like candy and liquor, with hopes it would generate $534 million to support the governor's capital program, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

But the measure has been controversial since the beginning.

First, Chicago and 80 other local governments opted out. Then in late January, a state appeals court ruled the law was unconstitutional, and the money could not be used to pay for the construction program. The ruling is currently on hold while the Illinois Supreme Court takes over the case.

A spokesman for Cullerton tells the Sun-Times the law has not generated any money for the capital program, and he proposes a different way to generate revenue.

Cullerton proposes raising the state's cigarette 98-cent-a-pack tax by 50 cents starting on July 1 and another 50 cents a year later. This initiative was passed by the Senate Executive Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno of Lemont wants lawmakers to wait until the Supreme Court rules on the case before acting on the issue.

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