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Lawmakers Pass Huge Gambling Expansion Bill, But Will Quinn Approve It?

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Photo Of Gamblers Playing The Slots. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Photo Of Gamblers Playing The Slots. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Susanna Song Susanna Song
Susanna Song serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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UPDATED 06/01/12 1:45 p.m.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — Illinois lawmakers are rolling the dice once again on a gambling bill, but its fate remains unclear.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed a similar bill last year, but never sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn, knowing he would veto it.

But on Thursday night, lawmakers approved the bill again. The state Senate voted 30 to 26 to approve the massive gambling expansion plan.

Quinn addressed the bill at a news conference Friday. But the more he spoke, the farther he got from an answer on whether he would sign it.

“If I stand up for doing it right, having integrity, having oversight in every part of government – whether it’s gambling or anything else, then the people will be, I think, happy with my work as governor. My conscience says that when I come to any issue in government, that we must have integrity – strong, no-nonsense ethics standards – and if we apply that again and again, we’ll be a better state,” Quinn said.

The gaming industry wants more opportunities to bring in gambling dollars.

Legislators say they have added several safeguards that the governor suggested last year.

The proposal includes five new casinos – including one at a land-based site within the Chicago city limits. The Chicago casino would have 4,000 gambling posts such as slot machines or blackjack tables.

New land-based casinos in Danville, Park City, Rockford and an undetermined site in Chicago’s south suburbs are also part of the proposal, according to published reports.

The bill also calls for four new riverboat casinos, and the first ever slot machines at horseracing tracks.

Sponsors claim the bill could produce at least $300 million in tax revenue for the state annually.

Quinn had been against the bill last year, saying he did not want the state to be saturated with casinos.

Last week when the House of Representatives approved the bill, Quinn called it too weak. He said it had too little oversight and too much opportunity for political corruption.

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