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Howard Stutz

Illinois residents don't favor statewide gaming expansion, including a Chicago casino

15 October 2012

Prospects for a casino in downtown Chicago took a hit over the weekend.

A poll conducted by the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV found that 47 percent of Illinois residents oppose gambling expansion. The numbers have turned around since February when a survey showed 50 percent of voters statewide approved of gambling expansion.

The survey results show growing opposition to new casinos and video slot machines at horse racing tracks. The latest poll findings also appear to show that voters back Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to veto the legislature's latest gambling expansion bill in August.

Lawmakers have twice approved measures to allow five new casinos for Chicago, Rockford, Danville, the south suburbs and Park City in Lake County, but Quinn has raised many concerns to block the measures.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel favors a casino that could generate new taxes for the city. The survey found, however, that 49 percent of Chicago residents oppose the gaming expansion.

Union Gaming Group Managing Director Bill Lerner told investors in a research note Monday that casino expansion in Illinois is fading, especially in the state’s legislature.

“There likely wouldn’t be enough votes to pass gaming legislation in the state with a veto-proof majority,” Lerner said. “In recent weeks, press reports had indicated that Gov. Quinn is still open to the process of gaming expansion and a possible casino in the city of Chicago. The governor also indicated that he hopes to address the issue by January 9th, which is the deadline for the current session.”