Illinois History Minutes

February 7 Illinois History Minute


On this day in 1990, Governor Jim Thompson signed a bill legalizing riverboat gambling in Illinois. The state’s first gambling boat launched on the Mississippi River at Alton the following year. Today, Illinois has a total of ten riverboat casinos. Riverboat gambling was promoted as a milder form of gambling because the flow of customers was disrupted by the boats’ regular trips up and down the river. But today, the boats are permanently docked, thanks to a change in the law in 1999.

On this day in 1911, future actor and president Ronald Reagan was one day old. He was born the day before in the town of Tampico, to Nelle and Jack Reagan. Ronald Reagan would grow up in small towns in northwest Illinois, first in Tampico, then Dixon, and then in Eureka, where he attended college.