Negotiations continue over gambling expansion in Illinois

May 29, 2013

(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Illinois State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, updates reporters Wednesday on the status of a major gambling bill he hopes to pass the legislature by the end of the week.

Supporters of gambling expansion in Illinois are scrambling to negotiate the bill in Springfield.

A plan to add five casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, is still being negotiated as state legislators are scheduled to end their session on Friday.

State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, sponsors the bill.

He said he wants to pass the gambling expansion package by Friday, but he doesn’t know how the governor feels about the plan.

“I guess I’d like to know where the governor is on this issue,” Rita told reporters Wednesday. “And if the intent is Chicago should be out of this bill, he should say that.”

Rita said if the Chicago casino is removed from the plan, it wouldn’t have enough support.

The plan also allows horse racing tracks in the state and airports to add slot machines. Rita said the airport slots were still being negotiated.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would not support a gambling plan if lawmakers do not approve a pension reform bill first. Quinn has vetoed two previous gambling expansion bills.

The head of the Illinois Gaming Board, Aaron Jaffe, has said he has concerns about oversight of a Chicago casino.

Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.

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