Revised Gambling Bill Fails in House

The Illinois House on Wednesday gave Gov. Pat Quinn a bit of a victory and shot down a revised bill that would expand gambling in Illinois.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), failed on a 58-53 vote.  It needed 60 votes to pass.

Undeterred, Lang said he plans to bring the bill up for a vote again on Thursday. He said he doesn't know why representatives who approved the plan have since changed their minds.

"This bill is a better bill than the one we passed with 65 votes," Lang said before his bill failed. "It’ll pay $1 billion in old bills. It’ll put $1 billion into state coffers. It’ll put people to work. We took the changes the governor wanted, even though he wouldn’t sit at the table with us, and put those in the bill."

His version sailed through a House committee a day earlier.

Richard Duchossois, owner of the Arlington Race Track, said he was disappointed by Wednesday's vote but remains hopeful the legislation will ultimately pass.

Quinn's office said Wednesday's vote made it clear the proposal needs "more work, dialogue and analysis."

The original bill was sidelined by opposition from the governor, who last month promised 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. 

Lang's revised version scaled back the number of gambling positions and gave the gaming board more time to investigate proposed licenses. 

But it kept in slots at racetracks -- something Quinn doesn't want -- 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.

Lang said the bill had no chance of passing if slots at racetracks weren't included.

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.

The House was told to be prepared to return to Springfield on Monday, Nov. 21.

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