Slots at Race Tracks Fails in Illinois

Dave Dahl IRN State Capitol Bureau

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN/KMOX) – The Illinois House has shot down a bill allowing  five new casinos and slot machines at race tracks like Fairmount Park in Collinsville.

The gambling bill meant to get more votes than one that has already passed – but was never sent to the governor – actually got fewer.

Gov. Pat Quinn has spent a lot of time criticizing the idea of slot machines at race tracks, a key component of both last spring’s bill and the one which failed Wednesday night. But sponsoring State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) needed to include the slot machines to get enough votes for the bill. Also, he says, the slots would help support Illinois’ ailing horse racing industry.

The bill in the spring received 65 Yes votes in the House, enough to pass but not enough to survive a veto. Only 58 representatives voted for the new bill Wednesday night.

The main difference in the failed bill is that there are no slot machines at the Illinois State Fairgrounds or at Chicago’s two airports. Both bills include a city-owned casino in Chicago, as well as in the south suburbs, Park City (near Waukegan), Danville, and Rockford.

During a fiery floor speech, Lang dismissed the governor as uninvolved and Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe as a self-promoter.

Some critics of the bill believe Illinois has reached its limit on gambling and that the new casinos would only be taking existing bettors away from the existing 10 casinos.

SB 1849 has failed in the House, 58-53-3. It needed 60 Yes votes to pass. The sponsor reserves the right to call it again.

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