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South Suburban Leaders Demand A Casino — And Its Revenue

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File Photo (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

File Photo (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

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FORD HEIGHTS (CBS) — Legislation that would allow airport gambling and bring five new casinos to the state, including one in Chicago and another in south suburban Ford Heights, will be considered this week by state lawmakers.

CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports that south suburban mayors say it’s the only way to help those struggling suburbs.

Those mayors laid their cards on the table at a Sunday gathering. They want a Ford Heights casino and they want it as soon as possible.

“This initiative will have the capacity to make an immediate impact with respect to revitalization, rejuvenation and transformation,”  Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg said.

The mayors in favor of the plan to put five new casinos in Illinois say the south suburban casino will bring jobs to the area. They say it will keep $700 million gambling dollars in Illinois instead of heading to Indiana’s casinos, and it will give those depressed, blighted suburbs a chance.

“We will share the gaming casinos with all of the surrounding towns,” Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin said.

Bishop Larry Trotter told parishioners that although he doesn’t support or believe in gambling, he believes a casino is necessary to bring jobs to the south suburbs.

But some say don’t bet on it.

“It’s going to take a lot more than a gambling casino in Ford Heights to revive that town,”  says Doug Dobmeyer of the Task Force to Oppose Gambling in Chicago.

He says talk of casino revenues adding about a billion bucks to the state’s coffers is not only exaggerated — it’s wrong.

“The tax that would stay with the city or state is so miniscule in terms of what is needed,” he said.

The Senate bill would also allow slot and video poker machines at the state’s racetracks.

It’s up for discussion in a Senate committee on Tuesday.

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