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Lawmaker to call gambling expansion plan in fall

Published: Friday, May 30, 2014 11:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 31, 2014 12:07 a.m. CDT
Caption
(M. Spencer Green)
Illinois state Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, presides over a hearing April 16 on gaming legislation in Chicago. Plans to expand gambling in Illinois were put on hold Friday when Rita, the backer of legislation proposing new casinos, said he wouldn't call the measure for a vote until he resolved lingering issues and had key support. (AP Photo)

SPRINGFIELD – Plans to expand gambling in Illinois were put on hold Friday when the backer of legislation proposing new casinos said he wouldn't call the measure for a vote until he resolved lingering issues and had key support.

State Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat, said disputes over revenue sharing remained, and that he had yet to garner the full backing of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn, the horse racing industry and local communities. He said the timing simply "was not right," a decision that comes as lawmakers try to piece together a budget before adjourning this week for summer.

He said he'd hold hearings over the summer and bring it back in the fall.

"I am disappointed we could not move this issue forward this spring, but I am determined to prepare a bill for consideration in the fall veto session. We will be considering important revenue and budget issues during that session," he said in a statement. "I believe gambling expansion should and will be a major factor as we make these critical decisions going into 2015."

Several gambling proposals have failed in recent years.

Last year, when lawmakers grappled with several other high-profile issues, a gambling expansion bill wasn't called for a vote. Before that, two previous plans were vetoed by Quinn. The Chicago Democrat has said he wanted more ethical protections.

The latest plan has two options, one with a mega casino in Chicago and nowhere else. The other would call for a smaller Chicago casino and others in a suburb south of Chicago and the counties of Lake, Winnebago and Vermilion.

Local communities have said expanded gambling would help revive their economies, but the heads of existing casinos in the state have expressed concerns about saturating the market.

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