Gaming Bets Against Casino Expansion Plan

Gambling industry worries expansion would mean more revenue decline

By Jenel Nels
|  Friday, Nov 12, 2010  |  Updated 9:29 AM CDT
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Illinois lawmakers hold the cards to the future of the state's gambling industry.

A new expansion plan on the table could allow for new casinos in Park City, Chicago, Ford Heights, Rockford and Danville, and bring up to 1,200 slot machines to Arlington Park Race Track, according to the Daily Herald.

The State is nearly $15 billion dollars in debt and some lawmakers see gambling as a way to climb out. State Senator Terry Link tells the Daily Herald the proposal could bring the state $400 million in upfront revenue as the casinos purchase lisences to build. He's also trumpting the potential for the hotel and restaurant industry to build around the hot spots.

Not everyone is hot to the idea, including the Illinois casino industry, which wants the plan to fold.

A report from the Legislature's Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability found gambling revenue dropped 4.5-percent in the last fiscal year in the wake of a crippling recession. Revenue is down 28-percent over the last three years.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association Director Tom Swoik says the market won't bear the expansion and fears the move would drive revenues further down as they splinter.

Lawmakers open debate on the proposal Tuesday.

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