Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cook County Board planning to kill state's $31 billion capital improvement program by banning video gaming

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Lobbyists for the Illinois casino industry are hard at work pressing the pavement to pass a bill in the Cook County Board that will undermine Gov. Pat Quinn's $31 billion statewide capital improvement program by banning video gaming in the county.

The bill could be introduced as soon as this week by a gaming industry flak on the Cook County board.

Attorneys familiar with the bill believe that the casino industry is looking to the county to kill the bill because a Cook County ban would undermine the projected revenues that Quinn's capital improvement plan requires. If it dies in Cook County, the state may have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new revenue source for the capital plan and pull the rug out from under video gaming as a revenue stream.

Watch to see who makes the move on the Cook County board and you will know who is representing the powerful gaming industry that doesn't want mom and pop retail outlets, taverns and small stores in suburban communities to offer video gambling to customers. Every dollar spent on video gaming would be lost to the casinos in Illinois who are already hard hit by the bad economy. Revenues are down and they desperately want to stop any other diversion of their funds from gamblers.

The issue will be the topic Wednesday morning on Radio Chicagoland (AM 1530 radio) at 8:25 am with legislative specialist and election law attorney Michael Del Galdo who will analyze both sides of the battle which is fast positioning itself at the doorsteps of the Cook County board.

-- Ray Hanania

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