Casinos might take a pass on expanding
SPRINGFIELD -- Under the gambling expansion legislation being considered by lawmakers, existing casinos each would be allowed to add 800 new spots to gamble.
But with revenues from their current offerings already dropping and the rights to those spots costing big bucks, existing casinos might take a pass on expanding, an industry representative said Thursday.
"I don't think any of the existing casinos will take them up on the expansion," said Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which represents the boats in Elgin and Aurora, among others.
The Grand Victoria in particular, Swoik said, didn't see the crowds and lines at slot machines it usually does on New Year's Eve.
Existing casinos have fought expansion plans, arguing that as they take in less and less money in recent years, new nearby casinos and slots at horse tracks such as Arlington Park could further damage their businesses.
Newly elected 66th District Rep. David Harris -- who has no vote yet on the legislation as he will be sworn in next week -- is particularly upset about an amendment attached to the legislation Thursday, which would call for Arlington Park to share a portion of its revenue with Des Plaines, along with Arlington Heights.
Des Plaines Mayor Marty Moylan, though, said the provision creates a level playing field, as slots didn't exist when plans for the casino were approved in 2009.
"It's the first step in equalization," he said.
• Daily Herald Staff Writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.