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June 12, 2014

Getting to a gambling deal

If at first you don't succeed .... That seems to be the motto of the folks who want expanded gambling in Illinois. They're trying to figure out what to do now that the gambling bill didn't get called for a vote in the state House before the end of the legislative session.

One huge stumbling block to the bill's success was the inability of lawmakers to work out a deal that would add slot machines at Fairmount Racetrack -- as was planned for all the other tracks in the state -- but not undercut the Casino Queen and the city of East St. Louis, which counts on the taxes it generates.

Such are the challenges for government when it picks winners and losers as it has with gambling.

We understand why the Casino Queen doesn't want more competition. The growth of government sanctioned video gambling has hurt. In April alone, 10 metro-east communities near the casino and unincorporated St. Clair County had profits -- which means losses for customers-- of $990,285. That's part of the reason the Casino Queen's take was down in April by $1.26 million.

However, it doesn't make sense to allow video gambling at taverns, clubs and fraternal organizations and not at Fairmount -- particularly if other tracks would be allowed to have slot machines.

If a statewide gambling expansion bill in the future has any chance of success, this local stalemate will have to be solved first.

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