State Senate approves major gambling expansion
Fresh off an income tax increase vote, state senators approved a major gambling expansion to add another possible piece to the state's budget puzzle.
The Senate had rejected Senate Bill 744 last week, but voted 30-28 for it Saturday night after adding Danville as the fourth city that would receive a new riverboat casino. The other three are Rockford, Waukegan and Chicago. The measure also would add thousands of slot machines at casinos and horse racing tracks.
The measure now heads to the House, where House Speaker Michael Madigan has declared expanded gambling a dead issue this year. It also has not been to the House before, so it cannot be passed through that chamber before Sunday's deadline to finish the spring legislative session.
Supporters argued the major gambling addition would revitalize local economies at a time when jobs are scarce.
"The best dollars we can raise in the state of Illinois quite frankly are Hoosier dollars," said Sen. Mike Frerichs, a Gifford Democrat who represents Danville along the Indiana border in east-central Illinois.
But critics said such a large expansion would make Illinois the gambling mecca of the nation - not the right reputation this state wants.
"This is a step in the wrong direction. Please don't take it," said Sen. Matt Murphy, R-Palatine.