Revised Casino Bill Passes House Committee

A scaled-back version of an Illinois gambling expansion passed a House panel 8-2 Tuesday.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, reworked the bill to satisfy Gov. Pat Quinn's concerns about the original legislation's sprawling nature and lack of oversight. Quinn promised three weeks ago to veto the bill in its current form, and since then any action on it has been delayed.

The governor has said supporters of the gambling expansion risk overrunning the state. "They make it sound like we're all going to go to heaven if we have a casino on every street corner," Quinn said last month. "Well, I don't believe that."

Lang's new version dumps thousands of casino jobs and eliminates slot machines at the state park and at airports, per Quinn, but keeps slots at race tracks.

The bill moves on to the full House Wednesday. It allows for five new casinos, including one in Chicago that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing for to earn back the money being spent over the border in Indiana casinos.

Three days remain in Illinois' fall veto session, and much work remains to be done. Besides the gambling expansion, government pension costs and jobs incentives still need resolution.

Emanuel's proposed red-light camera legislation passed a House panel, and will be voted on Tuesday afternoon.

The governor is expected to meet with lawmakers at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the road ahead.

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