New gambling bill would help create jobs, raise $1.5 billion in state revenue

The Gambling Expansion Bill has been at the forefront of Illinois’ legislation lately, but concerns have arose about what kinds of effects this bill could have on other tax funded programs. Gov. Pat Quinn recently expressed reservations about how the gambling bill might affect other government funded programs in the state. One was how the tax cuts for the casinos could possibly take away money from education.

Quinn is still reviewing the bill, said Brooke Anderson, Quinn’s press secretary. She said the bill is complex, having many aspects that have to be considered before passing this type of legislation.

The gambling bill could have many impacts on the economy, including the regulation of casinos, state revenue, consumer protection, public safety and education, Anderson said.

She said the majority of the state’s gaming revenue goes to the Illinois Education Fund.

“Of course the impact on education funding with this bill will be something that we’re looking at,” Anderson said.

Gov. Quinn is also concerned about the impacts that gambling would have on the state and the ethics surrounding it, she added.

“One of his strongest concerns is that any expansion of gaming has proper and strong oversight,” Anderson said.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-30, is one of the co-sponsors for the gambling expansion bill. He said the bill would allow for the construction of five riverboat casinos. The proposed Chicago casino will have the option of expanding to O’Hare and Midway airports and allow for gambling machines at race tracks, Link said.

He added that this bill would be beneficial for the state, especially for its economy.

“This is a creator of jobs, it’s a creator of revenue,” Link said. “It’s huge in the amount of revenue that this will create for the state.”

He said the bill will initially bring in around $1.5 billion that could help pay off some state debts and will generate additional tax revenue to help support the state’s yearly budget.

Job creation is a major factor that could ensue, Link said. It could create construction jobs for the building of the casinos, jobs at casinos and help the hotel industry.

State Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-52, said the gambling bill would help downstate counties like Vermilion County, where a casino in Danville could be constructed as a result of the bill’s passage.

Regarding the concerns about tax breaks for casinos, Frerichs said the plan calls for the amount of casinos to be increased. If the number of casinos is increased, more money could be garnered, regardless of the tax cuts.

“There are lower rates, but you have more spots, more casinos. You’re hopefully not going to see a reduction in money for education,” he said. “So I think we have a difference in opinion about what will happen to revenue.”