Illinois May Shift Focus Back to Gambling Expansion

Now that Illinois lawmakers have passed legislation to address the state’s pension deficit crisis, there are reports that legislators in the Land of Lincoln may soon be turning their attention back to efforts to expand land-based casino gambling in the state.

The Quad City Times reported today that there are some in the state capitol of Springfield who feel confident that the issue will be moved back to the front burner.

Other legislative issues have been addressed

The Democratic governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, who faces re-election next year, has long said that he would refuse to budge on the casino matter until two major issues were resolved in the state.

Those two subjects, the aforementioned pension reform as well as marriage equality, have now been dealt with by Illinois legislators. Governor Quinn signed the state’s gay marriage bill into law last month, making Illinois the sixteenth state (including the District of Columbia) to enact such legislation.

Earlier this month, state lawmakers also passed legislation to resolve Illinois’ massively underfunded pension system, which is said to be short some $100 billion. Illinois has the worst such shortfall in the naiton, and also enjoys the poorest credit rating of all fifty states.

Illinois Governor has long been reticent on casino subject

Quinn, who in the past compared casino gambling to “dessert”, has historically been opposed to gambling and has vetoed two casino expansion bills in the past.

That is unlikely to stop supporters of gambling expansion in Illinois from re-introducing a bill that failed to make it to a vote during the spring legislative term. The Illinois casino bill would have allowed for the construction of five new land-based properties in the state, with one proposed for downtown Chicago.

Chicago is the third-largest city in the nation, and the establishment of a new casino there would be likely to negatively affect land-based casino properties in nearby Indiana and Wisconsin.

Speaking to the likelihood that the bill will be resurrected, Tom Swoik, who serves as the executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, said, “We fully expect a plan will be introduced. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day.”

Is online gaming in the future for Illinois?

The talk of allowing new casino properties in the Land of Lincoln has also brought up the question of whether or not online gambling might be in store for Illinois.

When talk of which states might be next to regulate real money online poker and other online casino games, Illinois, with its relatively large population, often makes the short list along with others like California and Pennsylvania.

And while Illinois would certainly be a populous marketplace were regulation to pass there, it should be noted that an online gambling component was stripped from the Illinois land-based casino bill earlier this year as a means of making the legislation more appealing to anti-gambling Governor Quinn.

When asked for a comment on the casino matter, a spokesperson for Governor Quinn, Brooke Anderson, said, “I’m not sure what the outlook is for the next year.”

Photo credit: Dschwen

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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