Illinois House approves bill allowing casino in Chicago

CHICAGO Tue May 31, 2011 5:47am EDT

A riverboat casino is seen in Davenport, Iowa March 29, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

A riverboat casino is seen in Davenport, Iowa March 29, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Illinois House of Representatives on Monday passed a gambling expansion bill that would bring a casino to Chicago.

The measure passed by a vote of 65-50.

New Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports having a casino in the city and urged the state's Senate to "act swiftly to pass this bill."

"A Chicago casino will spur local economic growth and provide jobs to Chicagoans, both needed to get our city moving again," Emanuel said in a statement.

The senate sponsor of the bill, Democratic Sen. Terry Link, said the senate already passed a version of the bill "a few times" so he expects it will pass again when the senate takes it up on Tuesday morning.

"I don't think the state's going to turn down an extra billion dollars a year in annual revenue, plus putting a lot of people to work," Link said, adding that he thinks Governor Pat Quinn, another Democrat, will "take a long hard look at this."

The bill will allow four additional casinos in Illinois and slot machines for racetracks and at Chicago's two airports.

The sponsor, Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat, has said the legislation would generate $1.5 billion up front in licensing fees, plus $500 million to $1 billion in annual gambling revenues, according to published reports. The money could be used to pay down the state's bills.

Quinn is open to proposals to raise revenues and create jobs to protect funding for education, according to his spokeswoman, Annie Thompson.

"At this point we are monitoring that legislation," Thompson said.

Quinn has said he was open to a Chicago casino, but has expressed concerns about further gambling expansions.

(Editing by Peter Bohan)