First Casino Hearing Takes Place in Illinois
It has been a busy week in the state of Illinois as far as gambling and casino news is concerned, however none of this week’s developments happened to center on the regulation of real money Internet poker games or casino games, despite the fact that many gaming industry pundits are closely watching the state, believing it to be ripe for the passage of such legislation.
This week the first in a series of hearings designed to bring attention to the possibility of land-based casino expansion was held, and the state’s governor, Pat Quinn, signed a bill allowing residents to continue to make horse racing deposits via the Internet.
First, let’s take a look at the casino expansion hearing.
Land-based casino industry worries about “poaching” of customers
A major sponsor of expanding brick and mortar casino gambling in severely cash-strapped Illinois is State Representative Bob Rita, Democrat of Blue Island.
This week Rita attended the first in what is to be a string of hearings meant to garner feedback on the casino plan, which, if approved, will allow the construction of five new land-based casinos in the state of Illinois as well as permit the installation of slot machines in the Chicago area’s two major airports, Midway and O’Hare.
Slot machines would also be permitted at racetracks in the Land of Lincoln. The five new casinos would be situated in the Chicagoland area, with one also proposed for downtown Chicago, the nation’s third largest city.
The existing land-based casino industry in the state, however, worries that adding additional casino properties would only serve to depress business for those already in existence.
“I want to be very clear: We are not in favor of any expansion that is going to dramatically affect our business. Despite popular opinion, gaming is not a cure-all,” the Daily Herald quoted Jeff Watson as saying. Watson is the president and general manager of the Casino Queen in East St. Louis, Illinois, where Wednesday’s hearing was held.
Similar legislation failed to gain traction last year
Last spring, a measure that would have accomplished the above-mentioned casino expansion goals failed to make it to a vote, but not before a component that would have provided for access to real money online poker and other forms of Internet gambling was stripped from the legislation as a means of attempting to make it more appealing to historically anti-gambling Governor Quinn, who faces re-election this November.
The Republican candidates for governor, who will head to a primary next month, have all proven to be fairly lukewarm on the casino matter as well.
Governor extends racetrack law
Though Governor Quinn has not been an outspoken supporter of expanding access to gambling in the state of Illinois – in fact he has twice vetoed gambling expansion legislation in the past – this week he signed into law a bill that extends “advanced deposit wagering” – the allowance of funds to be used for horse racing bets to be deposited via the Internet.
Though there was some speculation that with the expiration of the now-reinstated law, an opening for other forms of online gambling regulation could have been opened, such a thing did not come to pass.
The horse racing law, however, is not without consequence. Proceeds from advance deposit wagering allow for the funding of the Illinois Racing Board, and the failure of the bill could have led to delayed or canceled horse races in the state, a situation that would have resulted in lost revenue.
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