Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

March 7, 2013

Senate committee OKs 5 new casino locations

(Continued)

"Of course, gaming expansion has to be done right. It must have tough ethical standards, a campaign contribution ban on casino operators, and no loopholes for mobsters," Quinn told lawmakers.

Earlier this week, Quinn vetoed a 2011 attempted by lawmakers to expand gambling in the state. The proposal would have added five new casinos and more slot machines, and proponents said it would have brought in an estimated $1.6 billion. The bill didn't go to Quinn's desk until the end of session in January. Last year he vetoed another gambling expansion plan that also called for five new casinos, including one in Chicago. He said it needed a ban on political contributions from the gambling industry.

The measure that the Senate Executive Committee voted on following Quinn's speech closes the door on political contributions from gambling licensees. The measure prohibits them from giving money to various officeholders and candidates, including the governor and members of the General Assembly.

The proposal also would authorize casino licensees to operate Internet gambling. Online gambling would allow people in Illinois to play table games such as poker and black jack over the Internet, but sports betting wouldn't be authorized. Online profits would be split, with $10 million going toward treatment programs for problem gamblers, $5 million to the State Fairgrounds and the remainder to the state's public pension systems.

Illinois' pension problem is the worst in the nation, with nearly $100 billion in unfunded liability.

Opponents of the measure Wednesday argued online gambling would encourage betting by underage people. Others opposing the bill said it would saturate the market.

 

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