Stop me if you have heard this one. This could be the year Illinois expands legalized gambling. The legislature last year passed a major bill but never sent it to Gov. Pat Quinn, because Quinn indicated he would not sign it. That’s because Quinn has said he is opposed to slot machines at race tracks.
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“For those that think this is going to be resolved by a direct subsidy to the horse racing industry, I don’t think that’s going to work,” said State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), one of the lead sponsors of gambling legislation. “The horse racing industry wants a consistent and reliable source of funding that cannot be taken away.”
Help for the state’s ailing horse racing industry is intended to secure votes which otherwise would not be there for a gambling bill. The bill which passed last year would place five new casinos in the state – in Chicago, the north and south suburbs, Rockford, and Danville.
Lang says meetings have been ongoing, with another one set for next week. He says Quinn has become more involved, possibly because he is now being advised by Gary Hannig, a former state representative who was later secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Lang praised Hannig’s knowledge, maturity, and negotiating skills.