The two DuPage County Republicans seeking their party's nomination for the 24th District state Senate seat have differing views when it comes to gambling expansion in Illinois.
State Rep. Chris Nybo says that opening new casinos or adding slot machines at horse racing tracks isn't going to solve Illinois' budgetary problems. He said state lawmakers instead must make "tough decisions" to put the state on sound financial footing.
"I'm tired of the tricks," said Nybo of Elmhurst. "I'm tired of the lottery or slots at horse tracks. I'm tired of all that stuff."
State Sen. Kirk Dillard of Hinsdale, Nybo's opponent in the March 20 GOP primary, said he agrees gambling shouldn't be expanded in Illinois. But Dillard says there are some ideas he could support, including a new casino in Chicago.
Dillard argues Chicago already is dealing with the social ills that come from its residents traveling to nearby casinos in Indiana to gamble.
"Indiana and (Gov.) Mitch Daniels get all the money," he said. "And we don't get anything to take care of our schools or employ our people in the tourism industry."
Before a casino could open in Chicago, Dillard said, "a very stringent" regulatory process would need to be in place. As long as that requirement is met, he added, Chicago officials should have the opportunity to decide whether it's in the city's best interest to have a casino.
Nybo said it was a mistake for Illinois to legalize riverboat casinos 20 years ago. Allowing a casino in Chicago would make the situation worse, he added.
While Illinois initially competed against other states for riverboats, Nybo said gambling has "devolved" to the point where Illinois communities -- including Des Plaines, Aurora and Elgin -- are competing against each other.
"Personally, I'm not a gambler," Nybo said. "I don't do that kind of stuff. I think it's destructive to families. I think it's even more destructive when you start talking about casinos within the state of Illinois competing against one another."
When it comes to the horse racing industry, Dillard said he supports measures to assist horse racing's agricultural side, which produces between 15,000 to 30,000 jobs.
"We bend over backward, as we should, to save a couple thousand jobs at Sears or Navistar," Dillard said. "Here we're talking tens of thousands of jobs. And it's much harder to replace a lost job downstate than it is in suburban Chicago."
Still, Nybo said he opposes having slot machines at Arlington Park or other tracks. He again stressed that he doesn't want towns competing against each other.
If an existing casino loses revenue because of increased competition, Nybo said, that could create another problem.
"Pretty soon, these companies that own the casinos are going to stop investing in them," Nybo said. "And then they're really going to become facilities that you never want to set foot in."
The primary winner will advance to the November general election to face Democrat A. Ghani of Oak Brook.
The 24th District includes all or parts of Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Elmhurst, Glen Ellyn, Hinsdale, Lisle, Lombard, Oak Brook, Oakbrook Terrace, Villa Park, Westmont, Wheaton and Willowbrook.