Longtime supporters of expanding gambling in Illinois say they'll soon have new legislation in the General Assembly. But the million-dollar question is whether Governor Pat Quinn might finally be willing to play along. Quinn has condemned recent attempts to expand gambling as lacking ethical safeguards, like banning people in the industry from making campaign contributions. Plans call for five new casinos, Rockford, Danville, Chicago, and the city's north and south suburbs. Slot machines would also be allowed at horse racing tracks. Quinn has called that excessive, but he's frustrated backers by refusing to specify just what kind of expansion he might be willing to support. State Senator Terry Link says that began to change last year, when the governor had legislation introduced that incorporated some of his priorities:
"It's the first time he'd actually put something in writing, or confirmed what he wants, instead of a lot of suggestions without any substance."
Link says he thinks supporters are "very close," to reaching an agreement with the governor. Lawmakers have approved gambling in each of the last two years. With potentially a billion dollars in new tax revenue and the state still struggling to pay its bills, the legislature may be willing to bet on it again.
Support Your Public Radio Station