Gambling Expansion Blocked by House Panel
One state lawmaker is taking a gamble on a big expansion to the state's gaming industry, and so far it isn't paying out.
The latest plan to grow the number of casinos has hit a snag.
Skokie House Democrat Lou Lang says a short drive across the Illinois border shows just how much money the state is losing out on.
"If you go to gaming enterprises in other states and never get out of your car and just drive through the parking lot around the states that surround Illinois, you'd see nothing but Illinois license plates," Lang said.
Five new casinos, slot machines at race tracks and video gaming are all packed into Lang's proposal. That was enough for a House panel to give it a thumbs down. Opponents call it overreaching and a monumental expansion. Existing riverboat casinos railed against it, saying the gambling market is already saturated. Tom Swoik, who represents those casinos, says revenues have dropped by nearly a third and building more won't generate new dollars.
"That's like saying that a third of the houses available are vacant but let's help the economy by building more houses," Swoik said.
Governor Quinn has indicated his willingness to discuss a Chicago casino. Lang could scale back what he's asking for, but he won't have much time to change it before the legislature is set to adjourn next week.