Here’s another chance for Illinois lawmakers to put a casino in Chicago. Two chances, actually. It’s early, yet, but a bill under consideration would finally expand gambling such that the state would have its 11th casino, but the first in the state’s largest city. A second bill has five casinos – Chicago, the north and south suburbs, Rockford, and Danville.
In both cases, the Chicago casino would be state-owned. In the larger bill, there would be slot machines at horse tracks, with the exception of Fairmount Park at Collinsville, out of consideration for the nearby casino in East St. Louis.
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“Orlando and Las Vegas are our two largest competitors” for convention business, pointed out State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) at a House committee hearing in Chicago.
“Chicago certainly has the nightlife; Orlando does not have the casinos, Las Vegas obviously does,” responded consultant Joseph Weinert of Spectrum Gaming Group. “Again, they’re looking to give people opportunities for people to cut loose after a day being inside a big box.”
Anti-gambling advocate Anita Bedell told lawmakers not only does Illinois have enough places to gamble, but many of the big players in Illinois already operate in other states, thus negating the argument of competition.