Illinois Governor Proposes Doubling Slots, Games - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times: "Ending his long flirtation with expanding gambling, Gov. Blagojevich on Thursday proposed doubling the number of slot machines and table games at Illinois casinos -- a move he says would generate $300 million in new money for the state's cash-strapped schools.

"Since taking office, Blagojevich has shied away from turning to gambling to help fill the state's ballooning budget deficit, pegged at between $1 billion and $2.1 billion. He has considered -- but ultimately rejected -- proposals for one new casino in Chicago and others in the suburbs and Downstate.

"Thursday marked the first time the governor indicated how far he is willing to go on the politically and socially sticky subject of gambling. He tied his casino-expansion proposal to a bid to increase high school graduation requirements, including a third year of math and two writing-intensive courses.

"???The governor insisted that more gambling at existing casinos isn't the same as building new casinos -- an assertion gambling opponents dispute. He made it clear he would veto any plans for new casinos, including one in Chicago that Mayor Daley has coveted.

"???The governor's proposal would more than double the number of so-called gaming positions in Illinois to about 24,000. Blagojevich predicted about $300 million would be generated from selling those positions to casinos in the next budget year. But analysts said the state likely won't hit that jackpot if Blagojevich insists on keeping casino tax rates at current levels, which top out at 70 percent???"

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