Illinois House Approves, 65-50, Rep. Lou Lang’s Illnois Gaming Expansion Plan

(Springfield, IL) – May 31, 2011.The Illinois House yesterday approved, 65-50, a fresh gaming expansion package that will devote more than $1.5 billion of up-front and other fees to pay the state’s backlog of overdue bills, add at least $500 million annually to the state treasury, and create or save 90,000 jobs.

“This revised gaming legislation will critically boost the Illinois economy by creating 50,000 new jobs, saving 40,000 jobs linked to the horse racing industry, and providing more than $1.5 billion to pay the state’s overdue bills, said House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang (D-Skokie), chief House sponsor of the legislation.

“These are top priorities for both Governor Pat Quinn and the legislature,” Lang stated.

The measure, Senate Bill 744, includes five new casinos, including one for the City of Chicago, authorizes slot machines at the state’s six horse racing tracks, creates a “racino” at the Illinois State Fairground in Springfield, and devotes during the next four years an estimated $1.5 billion of anticipated up-front and other fees received by the state to pay past-due debt.

According to an analysis by the Illinois House research and appropriations staff, in addition to the $1.4 billion in one-time fees, approximately $500 million in recurring, annual tax revenue would be generated for the state, which would be split among education, capital funding, and local governments.

Additionally, to boost the 10 existing casino license holders due to the effects of the recession and the expected enhanced competition, Lang’s revised plan would drop the top tax rate from 50% to 40% and permit existing casinos to expand their available slot machines from 1,200 to 2,000.

“This bill aims to protect existing gaming jobs while creating new jobs,” said Lang. “By cutting their tax, the bill will help current employers maintain their workforce and grow their business.”

In addition to allowing the construction of either a riverboat or land-based casino in Chicago, the revised bill authorizes the city’s gaming authority to install a portion of its 4,000 authorized slot machines—but no table games—at Chicago O’Hare and Midway airports behind the security perimeter for ticketed passengers.

“This plan permits gaming at Midway and O’Hare for only ticketed passengers who have cleared security,” said Lang. “O’Hare and Midway will not become casinos for local residents who are not ticketed passengers.”

“In its totality, this bill is a jobs creation and protection bill,” said Lang.

The measure today faces the Illinois Senate.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn tonight at midnight.

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