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Agriculture Industry Pushes For Gambling Expansion

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(Credit: CBS)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) – It’s unclear how Gov. Pat Quinn will move forward with the gambling expansion passed by Illinois lawmakers, but some in the agriculture industry are urging him to sign it as-is.

The Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs says the package could provide millions of dollars to county fairs, soil and water conservation districts, cooperative extensions and other entities.

The association’s Margaret Vaughn says it’ll also be good to put money back into the horse racing industry through slot machines, but she doesn’t think five extra casinos will hurt potential profits.

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“We think they’d be competing with other casinos in Wisconsin and Indiana,” Vaughn said. “Right now, if you go to those casinos, 70 percent of the plates in the lot are from Illinois. We think they’re more or less competing with other states rather than within the state.”

Vaughn urges the governor to sign the bill as presented, but it appears unlikely that will do so. He has said in the past that the proposed casino expansion is “excessive.”

The gambling expansion bill approved by both houses of the General Assembly would create five new casinos, including one within the Chicago city limits. New casinos would also open in Lake County, the southern suburbs, Rockford and Danville.

The bill would also permit slot machines at racetracks, and at O’Hare and Midway international airports.

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