In the already heated battle for DuPage County's 23rd District, Republican state senate candidates Sen. Carole Pankau and Rep. Randy Ramey split sharply on their views for gambling expansion in Illinois.
Pankau, of Itasca, voted for the most recent effort last year to create five new casinos in Illinois and allow for slot machines at Arlington Park and other tracks. She said she particularly wants slot machines at the tracks.
"I want to make sure the horse racing industry in Illinois doesn't become extinct," she said.
Ramey, Pankau's opponent in the March 20 GOP primary, voted against the most recent gambling effort in Springfield, calling it "too large of an expansion."
Ramey, of Carol Stream, also opposes slots at the track, arguing that while the machines might raise money, they take the focus away from the sport of horse racing and turn the facility into a casino.
"I think there are some better ways to help the horse racing industry," he said.
Ramey, however, said he "probably" would support a new casino in Chicago, where it could draw tourism money.
Pankau disagrees, opposing new casinos.
"I'm not excited about a casino in Chicago," she said.
Gambling expansion is debated in Springfield nearly every year. In 2011, lawmakers sent Gov. Pat Quinn a proposal that he threatened to veto, so the issue is likely to come up before lawmakers again, either this year or next.
Who wins elections around the state in 2012 could determine how the issue plays out in the near future.
Ramey and Pankau's primary election battle for an Illinois Senate seat in the new 23rd District has already been a heated one after the two traded barbs over Ramey's arrest for DUI last year.
The district includes parts of Carol Stream, Itasca, Bloomingdale, Villa Park, Addison and Bartlett.
On the Democrats' side, the three-way primary race includes some disagreements over gambling policy, too.
In questionnaires submitted to the Daily Herald, Kevin Allen of Addison said he'd support a Chicago casino and slots at racetracks.
Greg Brownfield of Bartlett said he generally opposes expansion, but could perhaps vote for a narrow plan if it's part of a bigger package to pay for infrastructure.
And Tom Cullerton, mayor of Villa Park, said he'd support expansion plans, adding that the state needs the money to pay its bills.