The Legislature's latest push to expand gambling in Illinois comes to the Southland March 3, with a public hearing at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue at 6 p.m. The hearing had been previously scheduled for Feb. 17, but was canceled due to severe weather.
State Rep. Rita, D-Blue Island, sponsors the bill—which would include establishing a casino in a to-be-determined south suburb. After negotiations failed to produce an agreement at the end of the legislative session last May, Rita said he would look to schedule hearings to work through a number of issues preventing an agreement from moving forward. The fall veto session produced no further progress, so Rita hopes to use hearings this spring to produce legislation that can move ahead in Springfield.
The second hearing is now set for Monday, March 3, at the Tinley Park Convention Center in Tinley Park, where Rita and local legislators will talk through issues with a number of interests from that area. The first hearing was Jan. 28 in East St. Louis.
Bill supporters say it could bring in between $400 million and $1 billion in new annual revenue to Illinois. It would allow five new casinos (including one in Chicago, one in the suburbs), in addition to slot machines at horse racing tracks and O’Hare and Midway airports. Current and future casino license holders would also be permitted to apply for online licenses.
"I’m a firm believer that gambling expansion can provide great benefits to the state of Illinois and the communities where it comes," Rita said. "But it is important that we put a bill together that is transparent and that deals fairly with taxpayers and all of the interests involved. My hope is these hearings put us on the path to getting that done this spring."