Gambling expansion doesn't survive legislative session

Gambling expansion doesn't survive legislative session

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers adjourned Friday night without an agreement on a gambling expansion bill.

The failure of the negotiations means that the city of Danville will go for at least another five months without a long-sought casino. Danville is one of five communities that has consistently been mentioned as the recipient of a riverboat casino.

Sponsor Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, said there were two main reasons for abandoning the effort.

"First, we need to address the comments made in the final days of session from Gov. Quinn's gaming board chairman (Aaron Jaffe) when he said Chicago should be considered in a separate bill," Rita said. "This certainly caused many to wonder what the governor's intentions are with this proposal.

"More importantly, we need a bill that provides fairness, and there are several issues before us now that do not provide the appropriate fairness required for a gaming bill that we must do right."

He said there were several other issues to resolve, including slot machines at airports, revenue sharing for other groups including horse breeders and agricultural agencies, and issues related to a proposed Chicago casino.

"Let me be clear," said Rita, "I am very committed to bringing the stakeholders together and producing a responsible gambling bill that legislators can vote for and the governor can sign in 2013.

"It may take longer than we originally hoped. But it will be worth it if we can have a greater dialogue about these outstanding issues, hear all the ideas and make sure we're striking the right balance to produce an economic boost throughout the state."

Sen Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, whose district includes Danville, said he was disappointed that another gambling expansion bill had been stopped in the House.

"It's disappointing to hear that. A lot of people have done a lot of work on this for a long time," Frerichs said. "It's something that I think would bring needed revenue into the state, and create jobs in the state. That's what we should be doing here at the end of the session."

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