SPRINGFIELD — After years without success in the Legislature's lower chamber, proponents of casino gambling in Illinois won a major victory Monday when the House endorsed a plan that would add five new casinos, including one in Danville.
"This is the first time we've got this through the House," said Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer, who was in the House gallery for the vote. "We've gotten through the Senate twice but never the House. This is huge."
The bill (SB744) now moves to the Senate where a vote will have to come by Tuesday night, when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its spring session.
"We've passed a similar bill twice before. I would think we'd have enough votes but it has changed somewhat," said Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who has endorsed expanded gambling. "We'll see if those changes gain support or lose support."
The bigger hurdle is Gov. Pat Quinn, who has expressed concern about any large gambling expansion beyond a new casino in Chicago. The bill approved by the House on Monday could add as many as 27,000 gaming positions in Illinois.
Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, said he was pleased with the House vote.
"It's exciting for our community. It's a long time coming," he said. "I know there are good people from our area who have been working on this for a long, long time.
"This is about several hundred million dollars of investment in our community, putting people back to work locally. Danville's been trying to reinvent itself for a long time, and this is an exciting day for our area."