Illinois lawmakers have not forgotten about adding casinos. State Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) says he and State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) will sponsor new legislation after the General Assembly’s two week Easter break. Last year, the legislature passed – but did not send to the governor out of fear he would veto – a bill for five new casinos in the state, plus slot machines at race tracks. Gov. Pat Quinn specifically opposed the “racinos.”
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Without support from lawmakers who want to help the horsemen, how can a casino bill pass? “We’ve been negotiating this bill with everybody, and we hopefully will get something that will be able to pass out of both chambers and be signed,” says Link. Link would not provide details of his plans, but last year’s bill included a city-owned casino for Chicago, as well as casinos in the north and south suburbs, Rockford, and Danville. He reiterated that it will, he hopes, be a bill Quinn will approve.
Speaking of gambling, a representative of the Illinois Gaming Board told members of a Senate committee the first legal video poker games in the state could be played this fall. Caleb Melamed was discussing a bill to grant police powers to Gaming Board investigators, more of whom will be hired to help enforce the law. The bill’s sponsor, Link, says the necessary training would last perhaps twelve weeks, and many of the investigators, he says, will be former police officers anyway. SB 3450 has passed the Senate Executive Committee.