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Senate OKs casino for Chicago, slot machines at airports, racetracks

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Potential Chicago casino sites

Updated: June 1, 2011 3:30PM



SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate Tuesday narrowly passed and sent to Gov. Pat Quinn legislation that would authorize a casino for Chicago, put slot machines at racetracks and the city’s airports and add casinos in the suburbs.

The 30-27 vote represents the biggest expansion of gambling in the state since the General Assembly voted to authorize 10 casinos in 1990 and could end nearly a decade of stymied legislative efforts to add more casinos.

“This is gonna be jobs. It’s gonna be helping to be paying off the bills in the state of Illinois,” said Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. “It’s gonna be an economic boon for the state of Illinois. We need it.”

Quinn has not made his intentions clear on whether he will sign the legislation, though he has said he would oppose a “top-heavy” gambling package and is known to have questioned putting slot machines at racetracks.

But the vote represents a clear victory for new Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who helped turn the legislative tide in favor of the casino expansion package through a series of personal phones calls to rank-and-file lawmakers.

Opponents argued the added wagering opportunities created under the legislation would bankrupt Illinoisans with gambling addictions and take aim at those who can least afford to squander their payroll or Social Security checks.

“What you don’t see in the bill are the buses picking up the elderly and disabled and hauling them like cattle to the boats and casinos,” said Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon).



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