Lou Lang Says Illinois Casino Expansion Bill Has “Flaws that Are Fixable”

(Springfield, IL) — A gambling expansion plan – including slots at horse tracks and four new casinos – pushed through the Illinois Senate by State Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills)–stalled in the Illinois House, but the plan is “fixable” according to State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

Lang, a Deputy House Majority Leader, oversees gaming in the House, said there are provisions he called

House Speaker Michael Madigan

House Speaker Michael Madigan

“problematic.”

“There are flaws that are fixable, but they were unfixable before the deadline,” Lang said. “I think this can be win-win, just not yet.”

The Link bill proposes four new casinos in Chicago, Park City, Rockford and Danville; increasing gambling positions at existing casinos from 1,200 to 2,000; and permit riverboats to become land-based.

“I think naming specific communities is problematic, although I actually personally support the communities he named in the bill. But in terms of passing the bill out of the House, it would be better to have a more general approach,” Lang said.

Link’s bill would also allow existing Illinois casinos to operate slot machines at horse tracks.

“I think if we’re going to help the racetracks, we ought to help the racetracks. We ought to give them their opportunity to get a few bucks out of this to save the 40,000 jobs in the horse-racing industry,” Lang said. “The way the slot machines at the racetrack are treated, I would treat them differently.”

Passing legislation after May 31 requires 3/5th of lawmakers in both chambers. After January 1, only a majority will be necessary.

“Speaker Michael Madigan has staked out a position opposed to gambling, and even though I support gaming expansion, while I’m on his leadership team, I support the Speaker’s position,” Lang said.

“That said, I don’t support everything in Senator Link’s bill and I’m sure he and I could work out our differences, but until and unless the Speaker decides we’re going to take a look at this probably nothing will happen.”

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