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East St. Louis Hearing To Address Illinois Gambling Expansion Proposal

The main gaming floor at River City Casino
(photo courtesy of Pinnacle Entertainment)
The main gaming floor at River City Casino

A hearing at the Casino Queen in East Saint Louis Tuesday will kick off an Illinois lawmaker’s renewed efforts to expand gambling in the state.

Rep. Bob Rita of Blue Island is reviving a proposal to increase state tax revenues by allowing five new casinos in Illinois, in northern and central Illinois, and add slot machines at horse racing tracks and Chicago airports. 

Rita says he’s following up on a promise he made to conduct regional hearings after the proposal he shouldered last year stalled.

“I’d like to hear from… the locals in the area on the pros and cons of the gaming expansion bill and then how we could come up with a resolution for that particular area,” Rita said.

Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has vetoed two gambling bills in the past because he said they didn’t include enough ethical safeguards.

Rita hopes to navigate the thicket of regional interests involved in the bill all over the state.

“I’m interested to hear from locals, from the, whether it’s from Fairmount Track to people and how it directly affects the Casino Queen and city of East Saint Louis," Rita said. 

East Saint Louis officials had been concerned that the provision adding slot machines at Fairmount race track would hurt the Casino Queen, which provides much of the tax base for the city.

Tuesday’s hearing begins at 6 p.m. at the Casino Queen.