05/26/2011 3:09PM

Illinois gaming bill defeated


Proposed legislation to expand gaming in Illinois radically, including the introduction of slot machines to racetracks, was voted down in a House of Representatives committee by a 6-5 margin late Wednesday, but could soon return for another committee vote.

Arlington Park testified against the amendment to Senate Bill 744, objecting to language in the bill requiring a so-called peace agreement with labor unions. The amendment required racetracks to form a three-year agreement with unions representing employees who would be hired to work in a racetrack casino.

“There was just some language we were very uncomfortable with,” said Arlington general manger Tony Petrillo.

Arlington’s objection apparently triggered “no” votes from several committee members, leading to the bill’s narrow defeat. The bill is expected to be refiled with the committee without the language objectionable to Arlington. Petrillo said he didn’t believe Arlington’s initial rejection of the expanded gaming legislation would derail the bill. The spring legislative session runs through May 31.

“They still have until the middle of next week,” Petrillo said. “I think there’s plenty of time in that respect.”

The proposed legislation would permit five new Illinois casinos – including one in downtown Chicago – in addition to the 10 already licensed, allow slot machines behind security gates at O’Hare and Midway airports, increase the number of gaming positions at existing casinos, and green-light slot-machine parlors at the state’s racetracks.