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updated: 7/2/2014 5:35 PM

Kane Co. to oppose gambling expansion

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Kane County officials will lobby against gambling expansion in Illinois as they redirect a portion of the gambling proceeds the county receives for capital projects.

The county's portion of local gambling profits is on a downward spiral, a trajectory county officials say would only worsen if state lawmakers approve any version of the gambling expansion debated in Springfield the past two years.

One version of gambling expansion would create a so-called mega casino in Chicago. Another version would create five new casinos in the state.

County officials believe at least three of the new casinos would become direct competitors with the Hollywood Casino in Aurora and the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. State lawmakers recessed at the end of May without any forward movement on those proposals.

More than a month later, Kane County officials are poised to approve a resolution opposing the casino expansion bill. The resolution says now is not the time to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to build a mega casino because the state has a "backlog of bills owed and deficits are high."

It also decries the formation of a Chicago Casino Development Authority, which the resolution describes as having "unfettered rights to use eminent domain, condemnation and unlimited bonding powers."

The bill may find new life in the next legislative session, but Democrat Mike Noland, Republican Jim Oberweis and former Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay all voted "no" on the legislation when it passed through the senate chamber a year ago.

The full county board will vote on the resolution next week. At that same meeting, board members are expected to vote to use the coounty's cut of local video gambling revenues for a new purpose.

The county board initially banned video gambling in 2009 only to repeal that ban less than six months later. But ever since then, the county has funneled video gambling revenue into its general fund, the account that pays for the bulk of county expenses, including salaries.

But board members were recently reminded they have a $100 million future expense in expanding the judicial center campus. There are also various other construction projects to consider, including Coroner Rob Russell's repeated requests for a new morgue.

With that in mind, board members are expected to vote to commit video gambling revenues to capital projects this year and in future years. The county expects to receive about $65,000 in video gambling revenues this year.

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