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McNamara Says Rockford 'Won The World Series' In Legislative Session

Susan Stephens

Cities that have been asking for a casino for decades are celebrating the big gambling expansion bill.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says his city has been pursuing a casino for more than twenty years. He’s pleased Rockford will finally be in the game. He credits Gov. J.B. Pritzker with making it, and other things on the city’s wish list, happen.  

“He’s been a tremendous listener," McNamara said. "Someone who really took in the information. And when he said he would do something, he did it. And I don’t know if you can ask [for] more.”

Credit Susan Stephens
Rockford City Hall

The bill also authorized casinos in Waukegan, Danville, the South Suburbs and Williamson County, as well as a massive casino in downtown Chicago. It also expanded gambling positions at all casinos and legalized sports betting at casinos, racetracks and other sports facilities. People will also be able to play the slots at Chicago’s two airports.

McNamara says says local officials who have sought to restore or extend passenger rail service to their cities are pleased with the latest capital plan. 

The final version of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” plan includes $275 million to expand rail service from Chicago to Rockford.  McNamara says that, along with other infrastructure and revenue enhancements approved by the legislature, leaves him bullish about the city’s future.

“Some people say the City of Rockford hit a home run, some say they hit a grand slam. I would say we won the World Series for the next 20 years.”  

The plan also allots money to extend passenger rail service to Moline, expand Chicago-area Metra service into Kendall County, and for track improvements on existing lines from Chicago serving Champaign and Carbondale.

McNamara also credited Senators Steve Stadelman (D) and Dave Syverson (R) and Representative Maurice West (D) for their efforts to bring the projects to the city. McNamara says there is now much more work to do.