From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Illinois Senate Approves Gaming Expansion Measure

casino

Slot machines are available at the Argosy Casino north of Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. (Chuck France/AP)

The Illinois Senate has once again approved an expansion of gambling. But it remains to be seen whether Gov. Pat Quinn will go along with the plan.

The legislation would create new casinos in Chicago, the suburbs, Rockford and Danville. It would also allow slot machines at horse racetracks.

Lawmakers have been working on this expansion for years, but Gov. Quinn has vetoed two previous attempts, saying he wanted more ethical safeguards.

In response, Sen. Terry Link, a Democrat from Waukegan, said he added bans on campaign contributions by any business that holds a gambling license. He also took out a controversial plan that would have allowed gambling over the Internet.

"I think that we went far, far further to make sure that the governor would be quite happy with this bill," Link said.

The governor has taken note of Link's efforts.

Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the legislation "appears to be moving in the right direction." But she added the governor would continue to seek "refinements" in the proposal.

All east central Illinois senators approved the measure with the exception of Dale Righter (R-Mattoon), who voted no, and Bill Brady (R-Bloomington), who voted present.

Righter voted the measure down, saying the ban could extend to the governing boards of not-profit groups that have video gaming machines, like VFW’s  or Knights of Columbus.

“There is no question there needs to be greater clarity on this issue, because what we don’t want is these people back home who have been waiting forever for these machines in their non-profit facilities to then write a $20 or $50 check to a member of the General Assembly as a campaign contribution," Righter said. "And the next thing you know, someone from the Gaming Board’s knocking on their door, saying that was against state law, and by the way, here’s the penalty.”

Senators voted 32-20 in support of the measure, shortly after a key committee approved it.