|The Chairman of the Illinois House Gaming Committee “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, “ said Chairman and Representative Lou Lang, a Democrat, representing Skokie. “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,” Lang added, his voice reportedly growing louder with each word.
Then the Reverend Tom Grey of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling asked for a moratorium on the expansion of gambling in the state. Grey also requested a study on the industry's “social impact”
It was Rev. Grey who criticized lawmakers for accepting campaign contributions from people in the gambling industry. He said, “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.”
Governor Rod Blagojevich said those fiscal woes will amount to an estimated $1.2 billion revenue shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, and a $3.6 billion deficit for the next fiscal year.
The State Journal-Register reported that riverboat casinos want the limit of 1,200 gaming positions per boat to be extended. The on-water casinos operators would also like a reduction in the current tax rate as well, but claim that despite the reduction, they would create $365 million in tax revenue from riverboat gambling alone.
The video gaming industry in Illinois suggests that legalizing slot video games for gambling “in liquor-pouring establishments” would raise $752 million in tax revenue.
And harness race operators want slot machines on harness horse race tracks and would split the profits with track owners. The horsemen claim that $423 million in taxes would be raised for the state.
Such figures, if actualized, would go a long way toward meeting the state’s current and future budget deficits.