Illinois lawmakers kill gaming expansion

14 January 2011

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois -- Illinois lawmakers, earlier this week, ended any chances of meaningful gaming expansion in the Midwest state.

A bill that would have permitted five new casinos and would have allowed for slot machines to be installed at racetracks and at the Chicago area airports, died during a special legislative session without any action being taken.

The bill would have also allowed existing riverboat gaming operators to expand their footprints over time.

The casino and racetrack expansion bill would have added roughly 28,000 slot machines and table games to a market that currently has some 11,700 gambling devices.

Analysts said the bill's death removes Illinois from the gaming expansion landscape.

"In our view, it is highly unlikely that any new gaming expansion proposals will gain traction in the legislature for the next two years," said Union Gaming Group Principal Bill Lerner.

Added Wells Fargo Securities gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli, "The opportunity for slot manufacturers would have been significant."

Illinois is still looking at rolling out 40,000 video lottery terminals around the state at bars and taverns during the last half of the year. However, the process is on hold due to litigation over the awarding of the central systems contract.

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