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Lawmakers To Take Up Gambling Expansion

Casino Gambling

(Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – Illinois lawmakers are expected to take up a major gambling expansion bill this week.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding tells us, one Chicago agency is urging house members to reject it.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding Reports

The State of Illinois is facing a crippling budget deficit, so many lawmakers are pushing for expanding the state’s gambling industry to generate more revenue.

The Illinois state Senate in November approved a bill that would authorize a casino in Chicago, as well as south suburban Ford Heights, downstate Danville, and Lake County.

The Senate bill would also allow slot and video poker machines at the state’s racetracks, including 1,200 slots at Arlington Park. It would even add slot machines at O’Hare and Midway international airports.

But Art Bilek of the Chicago Crime Commission says if the gambling expansion bill is passed, it would change the perception of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois.

“We no longer will be the Prairie State. We’ll become the gambling state, and we’ll be linked to Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Las Vegas, Nevada, as one of the big places to go for gambling,” Bilek said.

Bilek added that expanding gambling to this degree would only pave the way for more crime and corruption.

The bill was pulled from committee, but could be up for discussion again later this week.