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And They’re Off!…Another Attempt To Install Slots At Illinois Racetracks

Brett Blume
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COLLINSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) -  Imagine this…you’re spending the day at Fairmount Park racetrack in Collinsville but you’re not having any luck with the ponies.

So you take a few steps and start dropping quarters into a slot machine.

It’s a scenario that would become reality if former Illinois lawmaker Bill Black had his way.

Black, now chairman of the Illinois Revenue & Jobs Alliance, is touting a new study his agency commissioned from Spectrum Gaming Group on the potential impact of passing Senate Bill 1849.

“You’re going to add, net add, two-hundred-plus million dollars to the state treasury,” Black told KMOX News. “You’re going to put twenty-thousand people to work. People who work pay taxes, which increases your revenue.”

Under the measure, new casinos would be established in Chicago, Lake County, Rockford, Danville and elsewhere, and slot machines would be allowed at Fairmount and five other racetracks across the state.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he could accept five new casinos; however, he’s opposed racetrack slot machines and he also has wanted new ethics rules and tighter state control over gambling.

The IRJA study follows a report by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that found the state would receive an additional $444 million in additional tax revenue each year if SB 1849 were signed into law.

According to the Spectrum report, projected gross gaming revenue in Illinois would reach $3.28 billion annually by 2016 if SB 1849 were enacted — a 75 percent increase from the $1.87 billion projected if no expansion occurred, according to the IRJA.

Proponent Bill Black understands that Gov. Quinn and other opponents are concerned about building up state coffers on the backs of problem gamblers.

“That issue sailed back in 1974 when Illinois started a lottery,” he countered.

A similar measure made its way through the legislature last year but was never sent to Governor Quinn, who had threatened a veto over the issue of slots at racetracks.

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