by Bob Kieckhefer
The Illinois General Assembly adjourned early the morning of Jan. 12 without voting on a massive expansion of gaming that would have permitted the state’s racetracks to install a limited number of slot machines.
The legislature in its waning hours did approve a 67% increase in the state income tax, relieving some of the financial pressure that could have been addressed by gaming revenue.
Supporters argued Illinois racing needed the added income from slots to survive in the face of increasing competition from other states, in-state casinos, and other forms of gambling. The bill also would have authorized several new land-based casinos, including one in downtown Chicago.
The state Senate approved the bill with a bare majority, and House sponsors worked until the final hours to try to shape a compromise that could win the needed 60 votes there. In the end, as has happened in the past, the bill did not make the leadership’s “must-do” list.
A new General Assembly, to be sworn in later Jan. 12, would have to start the process anew.