05/27/2011 5:20PM

Illinois casino bill revived


Proposed legislation to expand gaming in Illinois, including the introduction of racetrack casinos, is back in play after passing out of House of Representatives committee by an 8-3 vote Friday afternoon. The legislation could come to a vote before the full House early next week. To become law, it would then have to be passed by the Senate and be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The gaming expansion legislation, introduced by Rep. Lou Lang, suffered a setback in the same House committee on Wednesday, when lawmakers voted it down 6-3. Several of the "no" votes were registered after Arlington Park objected to a provision concerning organized labor agreements for employees at a future racino. The section of the bill that concerned Arlington was removed in an amendment set forth Thursday.

The legislation would significantly increase the amount of gaming in Illinois, with the issuance of five new casino licenses to go with the 10 already distributed, slot machines at airports in Chicago, casinos at the state's racetracks, and additional gaming positions for casinos already operational.

The state's racing industry has for years failed in its attempt to convince the legislature to permit ontrack slot-machine parlors. While gaming expansion would help address a state budget shortfall of some $11 million, the proposed legislation still is expected to face substantial opposition as it moves through the legislature. Gov. Quinn has issued recent statements suggesting he is cool to the idea of expanding gambling on the scale currently proposed in Lang's bill.