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Illinois lawmakers to revive talks on new casinos

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013 1:03 p.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers are taking another shot at putting together a gambling expansion measure that can get through both chambers of the Legislature and win the approval of Gov. Pat Quinn, who has vetoed two previous bills.

A House committee was expected to hold a hearing Wednesday on a measure that would add five casinos and allow slot machines at Chicago's two major airports.

The bill passed the Senate last spring but failed to get a vote in the House, in part because of concerns about oversight of a Chicago casino and how revenues from other casinos would be shared.

Rep. Robert Rita, a Democrat from Blue Island and the sponsor of the legislation, said last week he wants to get any concerns out in the open so he can start addressing them. No vote is scheduled.

Supporters of the plan say it could provide the state and local governments with millions in much-needed revenue. It calls for casinos in Danville, Rockford, Chicago's south suburbs and Lake County in addition to the Chicago casino. It also would allow slots at O'Hare and Midway international airports and other locations.

Lawmakers also could hear from horsemen and officials from Illinois racetracks who want lawmakers to legalize online betting.

The second day of the Legislature's fall session also included a prayer vigil and rally by opponents of legislation that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois. That bill also passed the Senate — where Democrats have bigger majorities than in the House — earlier this year, but its sponsor opted not to call a vote in the House because he didn't have the votes for it to pass. Advocates for the measure held their own rally at the Capitol on Tuesday.

Both the House and Senate have canceled Thursday's session. They are scheduled to return to Springfield for the second week of the fall session in early November.

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The bills are SB1739 and SB10.

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