State Lawmakers Consider Gambling Bill

UPDATE: Revised Gambling Bill Fails in House

Illinois lawmakers vote Wednesday on a gambling expansion that would bring a casino to Chicago.

A revised, scaled-back bill that eliminates shot machines at airports and the state fair passed a House committee Tuesday and now heads to the full House.

Gov. Pat Quinn last month laid out extensive concerns about the bill's first draft, promising to veto it in its current form. He criticized the bill for its over-saturation of gambling and said it shortchanges education and fails to provide adequate oversight by the Illinois gaming board.

"It's better to go back and start over," he said. "It's better to do it right the first time."

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, gave it a shot, scaling back the number of gambling positions and giving the gaming board more time to investigate proposed licenses.

Still in the bill are slots at racetracks, which Lang said the bill wouldn't pass without, and a casino in Park City in Lake County, a decision the governor wanted left up to the county. It also doesn't ban campaign contributions from casino reps, another pet peeve of Quinn's.

Still, the effort could be seen as a solid compromise, putting the ball back in Quinn's court if it passes through the House with a strong majority.

It's no secret how Mayor Rahm Emanuel feels. A casino in Chicago means tens of thousands of new jobs and sorely needed revenue. After Quinn vowed to veto the first bill, Emanuel said in a statement he's eager to work with the governor and the General Assembly to craft a compromise.

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