Crete president says amendments have clouded gaming picture

2014-03-25T16:54:00Z 2014-03-25T23:15:19Z Crete president says amendments have clouded gaming pictureGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
March 25, 2014 4:54 pm  • 

CRETE | Village President Michael Einhorn has been trying to follow the debate over expanding gambling, but said amendments to the proposal that might come before the General Assembly have complicated the matter.

“It’s kind of hard to understand, after four amendments, what is still on the table,” Einhorn said, in trying Monday to inform his municipal colleagues where the issue stands.

He cited the most recent amendments as being 186 pages and 406 pages of detailed legal language.

“This thing is going to continue to change on a daily basis,” said Einhorn. “This thing is literally all over the place.”

Crete is not in line to get the casino designated for the south suburbs because it sits just over the Cook/Will county line. But it could be impacted because various versions of the bill in the past have called for slot machines to be installed at horse racing tracks, including the Balmoral Racecourse that sits south of Crete.

An Illinois House of Representatives committee earlier this year held in Tinley Park gave municipal officials in communities interested in having a casino within their boundaries – including Calumet City, Chicago Heights, Dolton, Ford Heights, Lynwood and a joint proposal between Homewood and East Hazel Crest – a chance to make their pitches.

That same committee will meet again April 16 at the Thompson Center state government building in Chicago.

Much of the focus of that hearing will be on parts of the proposal related to a Chicago-based casino. Although slot machines at racetracks also will be discussed.

Einhorn, who attended the hearing in Tinley Park, said he will try to be present at the Chicago hearing to see what he can learn about Balmoral.

State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, who has been leading the recent efforts toward expanded gambling, said the bill now calls for fewer slot machines to be put at racetracks than it did in the past. Tax revenues generated by the state would be used for education and construction projects.

“I’m a firm believer that gambling expansion can provide great benefits to the state of Illinois and the communities where it comes,” Rita said in a prepared statement. “But it’s important that we put a bill together that is transparent and that deals fairly with taxpayers and all of the interests involved."

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