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Chicago Democrat opposes gambling expansion, downstate Republican supports it

Tue, 27 Nov 2012 14:58:26 CST
By: Willis Kern

Lawmakers in Springfield will tackle the Governor's veto of major gambling expansion legislation. If they succeed, Chicago would be granted a license to operate a casino. During a recent stop in Normal, Chicago democrat and 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar says he's philosophically opposed to gambling.

"If someone has $10 in disposable income, that's $10 they would normally spend on clothing, or a washing machine, or some sort of consumer good. If you open a casino, all you're doing is shifting that same amount of disposable income to a city-owned casino."

Pawar says the city of Chicago has no business owning a casino.

"The city wants to own this casino so we're playing the house. That means we're betting against our own people and that, to me, doesn't make any sense"

Pawar says Chicago would become the first "world class, global city" to host its own casino, if the veto is overridden. It would also set up a casino in economically-challenged Danville, among other areas. Pontiac Republican State Representative Jason Barickman says gambling expansion would provide a much-needed financial stimulus to downstate ag programs such as county 4H fairs and soil and water conservation districts.

"We have a lot of entities downstate which are starved for dollars and we view thatthat piece of legislation as an opportunity to take dollars and put them toward programs that very much need them."

Sponsors of the legislation say they are willing to consider a totally new package that would satisfy concerns raised by Governor Quinn, including a clause that would prohibit casino operators from making political campaign contributions. Lawmakers have until the new General Assembly is sworn in in early January to act.

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