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Anti-Gambling Advocates Criticize Illinois Gaming Committee

26 March 2003

ILLINOIS – As reported by the State Journal-Register: "The chairman of the Illinois House Gaming Committee on Tuesday angrily ended questioning of anti-gambling advocates after their testimony intimated that panel members were swayed by campaign contributions from the gambling industry.

"`The members of this committee are not on the take, the members of this committee have not predetermined what they're going to do, and the members of this committee don't have to answer to you about where we get our campaign donations,' said Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, his voice growing louder with each word.

"A few minutes earlier, the Rev. Tom Grey of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling had requested a moratorium on gambling expansion and a study on the industry's social impact. Grey has criticized lawmakers for accepting gambling contributions.

"…Various branches of the gaming industry have made presentations to the committee during the legislative session, each advocating some sort of plan as a solution to the state's fiscal woes. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has estimated a $1.2 billion revenue shortfall for the current fiscal year and a $3.6 billion deficit for the fiscal year set to begin July 1.

"The riverboats are pushing to eliminate the maximum limit of 1,200 gaming positions per boat and reduce the current tax rate, claiming such moves would generate $365 million in tax revenue for the state. The video gaming industry claims that legalizing video games - or slots - for gambling in liquor-pouring establishments would raise $752 million in tax revenue. The harness horsemen want to place slots at the tracks and split the revenue with the track owners, claiming $423 million in taxes would be generated for the state…"

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