05/23/2012 6:21PM

Illinois House passes gaming expansion bill

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Proposed legislation to significantly expand gaming in Illinois passed the Illinois House of Representatives with 69 votes late Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 1849, which would allow the state's racetracks to install slot-machine parlors on their premises, is expected to go before the Senate before the spring legislative session ends on May 31, but the real hurdle to passing the legislation is Gov. Pat Quinn. Similar legislation passed both houses of the legislature one year ago, but the Senate's president, John Cullerton, never sent the bill on to Quinn for consideration because of the strong chance of a veto.

Quinn on a number of occasions has specifically voiced his opposition to racetracks getting slot machines, and called last year's gaming-expansion legislation "top-heavy." There have, however, been recent reports suggesting that Quinn's opposition to racetrack slots has softened.

Besides bringing slots to tracks, the legislation would permit the addition of several new casinos in the state, including one in downtown Chicago. Existing casinos have voiced opposition to the expansion -particularly racetrack slots - expressing concern that the Illinois gaming market is approaching a saturation point.