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Riverboat Casinos Could Be Allowed in Rockford if Illinois Lawmakers Pass “Omnibus” Gambling Bill

Illinois lawmakers are really trying to make some progress on the proposed gambling expansion in the state despite the little time they are left with until the end of the ongoing legislative session.

The state’s General Assembly has scheduled a new consideration on the proposed casino gambling expansion. Local lawmakers made a U-turn and a key committee voted to send a Senate-passed piece of legislation back to the full House in a form of a “shell bill”. According to a person who is close to the negotiations but remained anonymous, Illinois lawmakers are likely to be working on an “omnibus” gambling bill which is set to combine a number of aspects of gambling expansion, including new casino operations addition, sports betting legalization and possibly higher taxes imposed on video gambling terminals (VGTs).

Apart from that, Illinois lawmakers could give a nod to a riverboat casino in Rockford, which has been on the negotiations table for a while. Yesterday, the Executive Committee provided Representative Robert Rita with approval allowing him to proceed with the long-discussed proposal.

A hearing on the bill sponsored by Representative Rita was scheduled by the House Executive Committee on Monday. Apart from the proposal for casinos in Rockford and Chicago, the bill has also suggested the addition of table games at horse racing tracks and permitting so-called sweepstakes games. The piece of legislation, under which a land-based casino is to be established in Chicago and riverboat casinos would be allowed in Rockford, Danville, Lake County and southern Illinois, is to now proceed in the state legislature.

The Ongoing Legislative Session Set to Close on Friday

In its original form, Senate Bill 516 would have allowed the Illinois Gaming Board to regulate casino gambling and riverboat gambling operations in the state.

For the time being, there are 10 riverboat casinos which offer their services across Illinois. Under the legal definition provided by existing legislation, riverboats are self-propelled excursion boats or one or more permanently moored barges where gambling services are available under an operation license. Under the proposed bill, the riverboat casinos which currently exist in the state would be given permission to relocate to other areas, which on the other hand, would open the possibility of a land-based casino to be established in the Chicago area.

For some time now, casino operators have been trying to get the long-desired permission for further expansion what would give them the chance to establish land-based gambling venues across Illinois. The last few years have seen their efforts become more intense, especially after VGTs have been legalized by the state.

As CasinoGamesPro has already reported, Illinois lawmakers are now in a hurry to reach a consensus on a number of issues regarding gambling expansion, as they are approaching the scheduled end of the ongoing 2019 spring session. The session will officially close this Friday, so proposed pieces of legislation which fail to pass now could be rolled out once again in the November veto session, or in the 2020 regular session.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.