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Article updated: 5/15/2013 5:38 AM

Changes coming to Illinois gambling plan

By Mike Riopell

SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers could try to add ethics measures and reconsider putting slot machines at the Chicago airports in an effort to get Gov. Pat Quinn to back a gambling plan, one of its key supporters said Tuesday.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, said he's looking to tinker with legislation ushered through the Illinois Senate this month by state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat.

"His bill will not be passed intact," Lang said. "It will be changed."

What likely won't change, Lang said, are the highest-profile elements of the plan, such as allowing up to 1,200 slot machines at Arlington International Racecourse and new casinos in Lake County, Chicago and elsewhere.

Lang said the inclusion of gambling at O'Hare and Midway airports could be on the chopping block. He said his changes will be directed at Quinn, who hasn't backed lawmakers' gambling efforts in recent years.

"We've had two vetoed gaming bills, and I don't want a third," Lang said.

The massive, complicated proposals contain dozens of elements, and changing them around can attract support from some lawmakers and turn off others. For more than a decade, Link, Lang and other supporters of more gambling have tried nearly every year to find the right combination to make their efforts law. But success eludes them.

Quinn has been particularly strident in his call for strong regulations and ethics provisions, but he's also said he doesn't want lawmakers to be distracted by gambling negotiations before they send him a separate plan to deal with the state's $100 billion in pension debt.

Changing the gambling proposal would add a step to the approval process at a time when lawmakers are swamped with huge debates over guns, the state budget, same-sex marriage and others.

Link Tuesday largely declined to comment, saying he didn't want to negotiate the plan via the media.

Ÿ Daily Herald staff writer Doug T. Graham contributed to this story.

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