Illinois Lawmakers Tussle over Expanding Gambling Operations
Illinois lawmakers are at loggerheads over the decision to expand gambling operations in the state. While Senator Terry Link, a vehement supporter of legalized gambling is trying to push a bill that would expand gambling operations all over the state, he is being opposed by the state Governor Pat Quinn. The Governor feels that the state currently has enough gambling options available for its residents and there is no need for any expansions.
There are ten casinos in Illinois. The legislation introduced by Senator Link seeks to raise the number to 14. The legislation also includes proposal that would allow the casinos to expand existing capacities. At the same time it includes the popular idea of establishing gambling slots at race tracks; a proposal mooted by many states and is in various stages of discussion for implementation.
It is nobody’s secret that the racing industry has fallen on hard times and is in financial doldrums for nearly a decade now. With casinos making its presence felt throughout the state, the interest in racing has taken a beating. Casinos have come up in places that were never exposed to the culture of casino gambling. The novelty of the casinos has attracted the residents of Illinois to these places in droves. Racing is the biggest casualty of this development.
The brainwave of linking gambling slots to race tracks seems to be working well for the racing industry. In states where tracks have been allotted slots, there are definite signs of financial stabilization. It is felt by many that Senator Link’s proposal does not have a chance to progress far enough. The Governor of Illinois is quite adamant about having his way. He is intent on preventing Illinois from becoming a major force in the gaming industry. He has voiced serious concerns about the proposal of Link. In his opinion, Illinois has enough casinos to meet the gaming needs of its citizens. He is believed to have said that he is seriously against making Illinois the Las Vegas of the Midwest.
The debate over expansion of gambling casinos in Illinois is being watched with interest by its neighboring states. Casinos in states such as Indiana would be specifically hurt by the expansion program of casinos in Illinois. It is believed that Indiana has many gamblers who prefer coming to Illinois to patronize their casinos. The state is said to have lost millions of dollars in revenue because of this. Expansion of casinos in Illinois obviously means that the state will continue to lose revenue in larger numbers, something that it can ill afford to happen at this juncture.
While they breathe easily in the belief that Governor Quinn will finally prevail in his efforts, Indiana lawmakers are still not fully convinced that Link would give up his efforts so easily. If approved, Senator Link’s proposal will see new casinos in places such as Chicago and Ford heights. Balmoral Park would be the chief beneficiary of the slots for a race track.
Gambling revenue in Illinois for the past fiscal year was lower than it has been in a decade. A smoking ban that was introduced three years ago is being blamed for the loss in revenues. However, the American Lung Association believes that the economic recession is the more likely reason for continuous decline in gambling revenues and smoking ban has nothing to do with it.