State Rep.Robert Rita in his Blue Island office discusses his plans to bring back a gambling expansion bill in the state Legislature this fall. Rita is the chief sponsor of the House bill to expand casino gambling in Illinois. | Photo by Phil Kadner~Sun-Times Media.
Updated: March 17, 2014 11:28AM
A public hearing on the latest attempt by the Legislature to expand gambling in Illinois, including establishing a casino in the Southland, will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue.
The hearing was scheduled by state Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, who is the chief sponsor of the gambling bill in the House.
The bill would allow five new casinos, including one in Chicago and at an as-yet undetermined location in the south suburbs, as well as slot machines at horse racing tracks and O’Hare and Midway airports. It also would allow current and future casino licensees to apply for online gambling licenses.
Southland mayors and business leaders are among those who have been invited to attend the hearing to give input on the bill. Rita recently held a similar hearing in East St. Louis and said he intends to schedule others, including one in Chicago.
Proponents of expanded gambling say it could bring in between $400 million and $1 billion in new annual revenue to Illinois.
That money could be a key selling point in rallying support for the bill, as lawmakers consider either extending the state’s temporary income tax increase, which is scheduled to roll back from 5 percent to 3.75 percent in January, or finding ways to make up for that lost tax revenue.
This is the fourth time in as many years that the Legislature has tried to pass a gambling expansion bill. Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed bills in 2011 and 2012 because of several concerns, mainly regarding ethics and regulation, and last year the legislation never reached a House vote after passing in the Senate.