House Committee Approves Slot Machines at Illinois Horse-Race Tracks

(Springfield, IL) — March 18, 2011. An Illinois House committee on Thursday approved legislation that would permit slot machines at the state’s six horse-race tracks while it would lower existing riverboat taxes and grant those casinos additional gaming positions.

The House Executive Committee voted 6-5 to allow, among other provisions, a total of 6,000 slot machines at the tracks. Arlington, Hawthorne and Maywood would be permitted to purchase 1,200 slots each and Balmoral, Fairmount and Quad Cities would each be permitted 900.

The proposal, House Bill 3107, sponsored by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie) would also add 8,000 more gambling positions at existing casinos and would give a $200 million tax break to the 10th river boat casino currently under construction.

Of the money raised, the state would direct 25% to the state’s capital construction fund and use the other 75% to pay the state’s overdue bills.

Additonally, Lang is seeking to rescue Illinois’ financially troubled horeracing industry and the 35,000 agri-business-linked jobs by helping to draw people back to the horsetracks, which have been witnessing declining attendance.

“The horse-racing industry is dying on the vine,” said Lang. “We can save those jobs in Illinois and revive Illinois horseracing if the legislature passes this bill,” Lang said.

Lang said the state’s horse-racing industry is suffering from unequal competition from other states that have slot machines at their horse-race tracks.

In addition to boosting horseracing, Lang’s plan also seeks to assist existing river boats whose revenues have slumped during the economic downturn. The bill would reduce the state’s gaming tax from 50% to 40% by July 1, 2013. Additoinally, casinos would get a tax break for table-games.

“My goal is to add jobs within the gaming industry and in local communities,” said Lang.

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

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