Illinois lawmakers are considering plans to add more casinos as the state continues to grapple with budget woes.
The latest proposals would place casinos in Danville, Rockford and Waukegan. Another proposal would allow for slot machines to be operated at race tracks like Arlington Park, the Alton Daily News reported. The bills are sponsored by Terry Link (D-Waukegan) in the Senate and in the House.
Gov. Pat Quinn has called the legislation to, once again, expand gambling in Illinois "a distraction."
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been pushing for a Chicago casino. A Chicago casino is something that officials in the city long have sought. As far back at 1993, Mayor Daley proposed an $800 million development that would have included five gambling boats on the Chicago River.
Critics of gambling expansion say that the are tremendous societal costs related to gambling addiction. A Chicago casino also could take business away from other area casinos in Illinois. Others point out that Illinois' state budget hasn't improved in the years since riverboat casinos first were approved in 1991 and that casino revenue tends to not keep pace with inflation.
"It's only short term. It's really not good fiscal policy," The Christian Sciene Monitor quoted Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in May 2011.
Proponents of a Chicago casino argue that a casino in the city would attract tourists and convention goers, drawing money from outside of the state unlike many of the downstate and suburban casinos.