The Illinois Senate began hearings Wednesday on a gambling expansion bill that calls for new casinos in Rockford, Chicago and its south suburbs, Danville, Lake County, and Williamson. Critics say the market is oversaturated with riverboats and video gaming. But Sen. Terry Link, D-Gurnee, says buses of people still are leaving the state to gamble.
"I have a funny feeling those buses might be empty when Lake County, Rockford, Danville, and Chicago end up with a casino," he said, "because I think you're going to stop a lot of that exporting of our money to those other states."
The bill also allows slot machines at the state’s three remaining race tracks. Illinois Harness Horseman Association Executive Director Tony Samone applauded the provision.
"This is something that harness horsemen and all horsemen in the state of Illinois need to compete with the other states," he said." "There's 19 other states that allow slot machines at their racetracks."
Racetrack profits would go toward boosting purses.
The gambling provision is similar to two other measures passed by the General Assembly but vetoed by former Gov. Pat Quinn.