SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Chicago would get a city-owned casino and be allowed to keep all revenue for seven years to help make ballooning pension payments, and new casinos would be added throughout the state under legislation expected to be introduced Thursday in the Illinois Senate.
Democratic Sen. Terry Link plans to present a gambling expansion bill before the Senate executive committee, said Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton.
In addition to a new Chicago casino, the legislation would add casinos in Chicago’s south suburbs, Rockford, Vermilion County and Lake County. It also calls for smaller “satellite” casinos, with between 400 and 600 slot machines that could be located in Decatur and far southern Illinois.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed for a Chicago-owned casino as a way to address a multibillion-dollar public-pension shortfall. The state sees new gambling as a source of much-needed revenue.
But gambling expansion has been difficult to accomplish. Former Gov. Pat Quinn twice vetoed bills, and previous efforts have stalled in the Legislature.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has been more open to adding new casinos. But the measure to be taken up Thursday still faces serious obstacles, including a breakdown in negotiations between Rauner and Democratic leaders.
Even if it’s approved in committee, the measure may not get through the full Legislature before it adjourns Sunday.
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