Illinois Judge Dismisses Riverboat Casino Suit

A Cook County, Ill., judge has dismissed a lawsuit blocking construction of a riverboat casino that's expected to pump millions of dollars into the Illinois racing industry.

That removes one roadblock to construction of a floating casino in Rosemont, near O'Hare International Airport. A sweeping revision of state racing and gaming laws, passed in 1999, authorized moving a dormant riverboat license to Rosemont and earmarked portions of the proceeds to surrounding municipalities, University of Illinois athletics, and racetracks.

The suit was filed by a group that wants the license moved to Lake County, located north of Chicago. Judge Robert Boharic ruled the Lake County groups did not have standing. An attorney said the challengers may appeal, but no decision has been made.

That ruling cleared the way for the Illinois Gaming Board to decide -- possibly as early as Tuesday -- on a request by Rosemont to resume construction of the casino.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Racing Board has scheduled an emergency meeting for Jan. 30 to discuss Fairmount Park's plan to scale back its Thoroughbred meet. A Madison County, Ill., circuit ruled that more than $4 million the Collinsville track was to use for purses go to the state Department of Agriculture for use by Standardbred interests. The situation resulted from a decision by the track to drop harness racing after the 1999 season.

Fairmount was awarded 161 days of Thoroughbred racing this year and is scheduled to open Feb. 6. But track officials have requested the opener be moved to mid-March.