Illinois casinos want 24-hour business

News-DemocratSeptember 10, 2013 

Illinois' riverboat casinos want to make gambling an around-the-clock operation.

The Illinois Casino Gaming Association has approached the Illinois Gaming Board about extending its hours of operation to generate more revenue. Currently, state law limits casinos to be open for no more than 22 hours a day. The association will hold a public hearing meet in Chicago on Sept. 19 to discuss the move.

No one from the Illinois Gaming Board could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Illinois Casino Gaming Association Executive Director Tom Swoik said every other state with casinos allow 24-hour gambling, including neighboring states Missouri, Iowa and Indiana. He said the recently approved video gaming is permitted on a round-the-clock basis and all 10 casinos in Illinois support the move.

"Basically, we believe we can get additional funds," Swoik said. "The truck stops have 24-hour gaming. We think we should go and look into this."

Casino Queen President and General Manager Jeff Watson also said this would help generate additional tax revenue for East St. Louis, the metro-east area and the rest of the state. He does not know how much more revenue this could bring to the East St. Louis casino, which is currently open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m., but he also wants to see the business hours extended to help the casino compete with those across the river.

"With Missouri casinos across the river already allows gambling for 24 hours, we at least from the Casino Queen's perspective, we look at leveling the competitive playing field between the two states," Watson said.

Watson said the state casino association attempted to expand to 24-hour gaming about five years ago, but failed.

Swoik said a final decision would probably be made at a later meeting sometime next month.

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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