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Renewed talk of a casino in Chicago “appears to be just that – talk,” according to a statement from the Task Force to Oppose Gambling for Chicago.

State Representative Lou Lang of Skokie told Crain’s Greg Hinz that he’s introducing yet another version of legislation to expand gambling; WBEZ reports Mayor Emanuel is lobbying legislative leaders for a casino; and a Sun Times editorial is in favor.

“We have lots of talk from a neophyte mayor and a couple suburban legislators, but it’s the same legislators and the same talk we’ve been hearing for years” said Doug Dobmeyer of the task force.

Now they “want to jam a casino down Chicago’s throat” in the final days of the legislative session, he said.  “That move is a joke that will only undermine the new mayor.”

The politically influential casino industry backs a Chicago casino but not four additional casinos around the state which Lang has proposed, Dobmeyer said.  Leave out the additional sites (as the Sun Times suggests) and you lose downstate support, Lang argues.  In addition, a brand new casino opening in Des Plaines just three weeks from now is not going to look favorably on unexpected competition from Chicago.

“This talk is diverting the city and state from finding legitimate ways to plug deficit holes in their budgets,” Dobmeyer said, enumerating a range of proposals including a financial transaction tax and a city income tax.  He points out that New York City has both.  (More here.)

He said a survey during the recent election campaign showed 28.8 percent of aldermanic candidates supported a casino and 42.8 were opposed.  Some 78 percent of candidates supported a referendum on gambling in Chicago before any legislative action.

A Chicago casino would “draw low-income people and problem gamblers to support the gambling business,” Dobmeyer said. “This disrupts a family’s efforts to educate its children and provide the basics of family life, especially during the recession.”

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Category: city budget, gambling

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