CHICAGO (WBBM) — Chicago’s Better Government Association is recommending caution before Illinois lawmakers decide to increase the number of casino licenses as a way to infuse cash into the state’s dwindling revenue stream.
BGA Executive Director Andy Shaw says casino expansion is always a tempting solution to the budget mess since so many gambling dollars are already leaving Illinois for surrounding states. But he warned against a rush to judgment.
“Study the pros and cons and make sure we are understanding what we are getting into,” Shaw told Newsradio 780’s John Cody.
He says casino expansion may be decent public policy, but the stakes are too high. Lawmakers are expected to consider whether to increase the number of casino licenses from 10 to 14.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports
He says lawmakers need to examine whether criminal elements are involved in casino operations. He says insider deals also need to be screened out.
Shaw stresses the BGA is not flatly opposed to adding four casino licenses. He is saying lawmakers should air the issue thoroughly, make the process transparent and approve the plan if they’re sure that on balance, the people of Illinois come out ahead in the deal.
He noted the idea to legalize video poker to local bars and restaurants was rammed through Springfield in two days with inadequate discussion. It is a plan that’s gone essentially nowhere because many constituent communities find it distasteful. Dozens of municipalities have opted out of the deal.