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Illinois gaming bill voted down in House

November 10, 2011

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The Illinois House of Representatives failed to pass a new gambling bill late Wednesday afternoon. A revamped bill, which called for slots at the state's racetracks, was defeated by a vote of 58-55, falling short. It needed 71 votes to become law over a potential veto by Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he is opposed to slots at the tracks. After the vote, the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), said he now hopes to get a simple majority of 60.
The vote for the bill was seven fewer than a larger gambling bill passed by lawmakers in both chambers back in May. That bill, which was never sent to Quinn, called for more gambling positions at casinos and racetracks. Most Illinois observers of the political scene have been predicting that any scaled back legislation will be tough to pass because some legislators, especially those in rural areas, will have less incentive to vote "yes."
However, Lang told reporters he thought something else was going on behind the scenes. The Springfield Journal-Register reported that Lang told the media, “The bill we voted on today is a far better bill than the bill we voted on then.  The fact that it got less votes tells me something’s afoot here that I haven’t quite grabbed hold of yet.”
Lang said the next step will be to analyze lawmakers’ votes and determine if there is an opportunity to pick up support from two more legislators. The legislative veto session continues through Nov. 21.
Lang's new bill still calls for casinos in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Park City and the south suburbs of Cook County and slot machines at the state's racetracks, but not at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, which Quinn had opposed. Instead, the fairgrounds would receive revenue generated by the casinos and racinos -- $10 million for repairs and another $5 million to promote tourism there. Another $5 million would go toward agriculture programs, such as 4-H, soil and water conservation and FFA.
Click here to read a story in the Springfield newspaper.
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