The gambling campaign

The gambling campaign

Posted by Mike Riopell on Wed, 10/24/2012 - 10:02

We told you in Tuesday's paper about how gambling interests are sending campaign cash to state lawmakers at a time when the future of new casinos in Illinois and slots at Arlington Park could be decided in the coming months.

Today, we were pointed to a radio ad running in the area urging voters to tell lawmakers not to back gambling expansion. It's paid for by the Coalition for Responsible Gaming Expansion.

The ad calls a plan to put slot machines at Arlington a "billion-dollar giveaway to racetrack owners."

"Let them know: We don't have a billion dollars to give away in sweetheart deals," it says.

We're unclear on where the "billion dollars" number comes from. But we'd guess casinos aren't happy with the idea of possibly losing revenue to increased competition from new casinos and slot machines at racetracks.

So even before the election, various interests are fighting over what might happen with gambling expansion after the election.

Here's how the new coalition explains who they are, in a statement from spokeswoman Jodie Kaplan:

“The Coalition for Responsible Gaming Expansion is a broad group of concerned citizens, community leaders, business groups, towns currently hosting casinos and leaders who oppose careless expansion of gaming in Illinois. We are committed to supporting our current gaming infrastructure and protecting existing jobs in the state through responsible gaming expansion.

Our coalition is fairly new and we are growing daily. We are currently working on getting our website up and running so that parties interested in learning more or joining our cause can go there to visit. Once we are up and running in the next few days, we can be found at www.responisiblegamingcoalition.org.

Arlington Park and other pro-expansion forces have had a similar coalition for a while called the Illinois Job and Revenue Alliance.

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