A former state lawmaker who voted against casinos at first is now advocating for more. Bill Black voted no on establishing the state’s first casinos in 1990. He says he had no idea how successful they would be in terms of attracting players, creating jobs and generating tax revenue for cities and the state.
“Nobody really thought this would be a tremendous amount of money. It might make a little money for the communities that wanted them, and that was fine with everyone, but suddenly we found that these were making a great deal of money, and then other states got in the act, and we found they were making even more money,” he said.
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A plan now under consideration in the General Assembly would add a casino in Black’s hometown of Danville, along with Rockford, Park City (near Waukegan), Chicago and the South Suburbs, as well as slot machines at race tracks. The governor vetoed similar gambling expansion schemes the last two years over ethics concerns which this year’s bill purports to satisfy, specifically a ban on political contributions by the gambling industry, and assurance that the Illinois Gaming Board will continue to regulate all casinos.
The state’s original 10 casinos were located in Alton, Aurora, East Dubuque, East Peoria, East St. Louis, Elgin, Joliet (2), Metropolis and Rock Island. The East Dubuque facility closed in 1997, and a new casino with that license opened in Des Plaines in 2012. All the others are still in operation.