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updated: 4/16/2012 12:11 PM

Group releases study to back slots at tracks

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SPRINGFIELD -- A group of Illinois organizations that includes Arlington Park is expected to release an economic impact study today in hopes of reviving a gambling expansion plan that includes slot machines at the track.

The group calls itself The Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance, and the report seeks to play up the possibilities for more jobs and state tax revenue the group says could be created by more gambling.

The plan the group is backing, which includes a new casino in Lake County along with the slots at Arlington Park, was rejected by the Illinois House last year but is eligible to come up again this year.

Top lawmakers, though, have said they might go a different direction with an entirely new gambling proposal this year.

Still, the alliance has recruited a fiery downstate Republican to help lead the push.

"These figures indicate there is a strong demand for more gaming in Illinois and that we have room to grow before the state even comes close to market saturation," former state Rep. Bill Black of Danville said in a statement announcing the report.

The study says adding five new casinos and slot machines would add $200 million a year to state coffers and create 20,500 jobs.

The study seeks to refute arguments against gambling expansion that suggest more casinos and slot machines would only detract from the gambling options that already exist.

It says that if the proposal the group backs becomes law, the state would have 266 adults for every gambling position -- slot machines or chairs at table games. The study says Indiana, Iowa and Missouri have about 159 adults per position.

Gov. Pat Quinn has pushed back hard against slot machines in particular, while showing a willingness to support new casinos.

Quinn spokesman Brooke Anderson said the governor hasn't moved off that position, supporting a "smaller, more moderate expansion."

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