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updated: 6/4/2012 5:23 PM

Des Plaines says it will fight gambling expansion

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Des Plaines city leaders say they will push Gov. Pat Quinn to veto the latest iteration of a massive gambling expansion plan.

"We're not going to be outgunned anymore," Mayor Marty Moylan said Monday during a news conference, speaking of the efforts of Chicago law firm Burke, Burns & Pinelli, Ltd., which helped introduce language into the gambling expansion legislation that will make it less painful to Des Plaines if it is signed into law.

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The firm and city attorneys will be studying the 360-plus-page gambling legislation in coming days while city leaders and lobbyists continue negotiations with the governor's office, Moylan said.

Illinois lawmakers approved the gambling expansion legislation last Thursday just before the session ended. The plan would add 1,200 slot machines at Arlington Park and five new Illinois casinos, including one in Lake County's Park City.

Slots at racetracks in Arlington Heights and Maywood would hurt Des Plaines because of their proximity to the Rivers Casino, situated in the city's 6th Ward.

"It's definitely going to affect our bottom line," Moylan said. "The governor is very aware of our position, from me and also our lobbyists. He's always been sympathetic to our needs here in Des Plaines. We were open to discussions on five other casinos, as long as we were getting relief, but when you throw in the threat of slots, that's definitely going to affect us."

In 2011, Quinn threatened to veto the previous gambling expansion proposal, which never made it to his desk. He has been noncommital about his support this time around.

Per the agreement that landed Des Plaines the 10th and final casino license, the city must pay the state $10 million for the next 30 years, and share 40 percent of the remaining revenues with 10 disadvantaged communities. Those checks went out Monday.

The city paid roughly $4.7 million to the state -- its prorated share of revenues from the time the casino opened on July 15 through Dec. 31 -- and distributed checks for a total of $2.5 million to the 10 communities. Des Plaines' share amounts to roughly $3.7 million.

If the governor signs the latest gambling legislation into law, Des Plaines would get a $4 million break on the $10 million it owes the state yearly. While he is seeking a veto, Moylan said he at least wants any future casinos to be subjected to the same kind of state payments and bidding process Des Plaines faced.

The proposed legislation allows for an additional 400 gambling positions at Rivers Casino, but Des Plaines is lobbying for a larger increase from 1,200 to a maximum of 2,000.

Moylan said he also is trying to garner the political support of those disadvantaged communities who also would lose out on monies if the state allows more casinos and racetracks.

"If we get less, they'll get less," Moylan said.

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