Please don't talk about putting Casino's on the South Side
Casino talk surfaces in Illinois’ south suburbs
StoryDiscussionFont Size: Default font size Larger font size By Kartikay Mehrotra | Sunday, January 20, 2008 | No comments posted
SPRINGFIELD — One of Chicago’s south suburbs is making a pitch to land a new casino if the state ever approves a plan to expand gambling.
The village of Lynwood sits on the Illinois-Indiana border, and Village President Eugene Williams says his community would be a prime location for getting the most money out of a new casino license.
“If your real intention is to create economic stimulus in a region that’s economically depressed or needs a boost, we fit that right here in this area,” Williams said Friday, adding that a casino on the Illinois side of the border would keep gamblers in Illinois instead of losing their bets at three Indiana casinos just across the border.
New casinos and the tax revenue they generate for the state have become the focal point in a debate over how to finance a long-sought statewide construction plan.
Municipalities across the state are declaring themselves open to a new casino. Rockford, Danville and Waukegan, along with other south suburban communities such as Country Club Hills, Calumet City and Dolton, have expressed an interest in hosting a new casino.
A gambling expansion measure was approved in the Illinois Senate last summer, but the legislation is being reworked in the House.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, has proposed new legislation that includes three new licenses, including one for Chicago, and security measures to prevent organized crime, and the governor or other politicians from getting too involved in operating the casinos.
“I think the flaws in the Senate bill were so profound the judgment was that it would be best if they start from the beginning,” Madigan spokesperson Steve Brown said.
While the final location of the new casinos ultimately would be decided by the Illinois Gaming Board, south suburban lawmakers say they will not support the addition of casinos unless one is located in their region.
“What we are doing is stealing back the gambling business that’s merely crossing the state line,” said state Rep. George Scully, D-Flossmoor. “We already have all the social ills of gambling without the economic benefits.”
State Rep. David Miller, D-Lynwood, agreed, saying, “It would be hard for me to support” legislation that did not include a plan for the south suburbs by name. “I think we make a strong case to have it.”
Kartikay Mehrotra can be contacted at (217) 789-0865 or Kartikay.Mehrotra@lee.net