#23 Feb 17, 2014
Gambling Bill Supporters Roll into South Suburbs
Rep. Robert Rita will speak to Southland leaders Monday night, about the Legislature's latest efforts to expand gambling in the state of Illinois. Hearing set for 6 p.m., Tinley Park Convention Center.
The Legislature's latest push to expand gambling in Illinois comes to the Southland Monday, with a public hearing at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 183rd Street and Harlem Avenue at 6 p.m.
The hearing is organized by state Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, who backs the bill—which would include establishing a casino in a to-be-determined south suburb.
Bill supporters say it could bring in between $400 million and $1 billion in new annual revenue to Illinois. It would allow five new casinos (including one in Chicago, one in the suburbs), in addition to slot machines at horse racing tracks and O’Hare and Midway airports. Current and future casino license holders would also be permitted to apply for online licenses.
South suburban mayors and officials will be in attendance Monday. This is the Legislature's fourth attempt in four years to pass a gambling expansion bill.
#24 Feb 24, 2014
Make sure you attend this meeting Monday evening. Bob Rita needs to be questioned, even if he refuses to answer the questions. The about quote explains what he is actually about. He refuses to address the real problems in his district, High crime, High unemployment (not in his family}, four closed bridges, He wants to create more. He makes no sense.
#25 Feb 24, 2014
Construction of casinos takes money lots and lots of it. Most municipalities in Illinois are in financial peril much like the state. Taxpayers and municipalities simply can not take on any further debt with the promise of "fortune" some time down the road. Property taxes have been significantly reduced impacting everything. The governor and the state legislature must rethink their motives for this poor idea.
#26 Feb 24, 2014
Ponzi scheme to steal from taxpayers!
#27 Feb 24, 2014
State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, announced the meeting on Monday. It’s scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 3, at the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18451 Convention Center Drive, Tinley Park.
#28 Feb 24, 2014
State Rep Bobby Rita wants Blue Island to become a Home Rule Community. To pay for the gambling expansion.
#29 Feb 24, 2014
History Professor Josh Fulton explained Home Rule was introduced in Russia to make it easier to hoodwink the masses and establish Fascism. Home Rule hasn't changed much since 1945; all you have to do is look at Illinois debt.
Today We should all be saying; "Power to the People!" "No Home Rule!"
#30 Mar 4, 2014
State Rep. Bob Rita will be at the Tinley Park Convention Center this evening holding another of his public hearings on proposed legislation to expand gambling statewide.
Rita became the point person on legislation to expand gambling in Illinois last spring when state Rep. Lou Lang stepped aside after years of writing — and rewriting and rewriting — bills that in the end never went anywhere. At that point, there were too many unresolved issues to get a bill through the Legislature in the 2013 spring session.
Since summer, Rita has been holding hearings trying to find the elusive middle ground that both the Legislature and Gov. Pat Quinn, who has vetoed two bills, can get behind. He hopes to put a bill together over the next few weeks. But after so many years of casino-bill debates, the odds of finding an entirely new approach sound to some Springfield veterans as akin to drawing that inside straight.
A Quinn spokesperson said the governor’s office is not aware of any movement on gaming legislation.
This this might not be the year that anything significant related to casinos gets momentum. In an election season, Quinn – who’s already accused of moving the goal posts in the past – wouldn’t have much incentive to give his Republican opponent the opportunity to portray Quinn as someone in the pocket of casino barons. If Quinn’s GOP foe doesn’t take that line, an anti-Quinn PAC might be more than happy to do it.
If Quinn wins, he might approve casino legislation during the veto session after the election. If he loses, probably not.
State Rep Bob Rita should act as a State Rep and fix the four closed bridges in his 28th District. Gambling Expansion is not the answer. We invite the Gambling Expansion fans to spend some time sight seeing in the 28th District, to see what we are referring to. Bob Rita is not helping us.
#31 Mar 4, 2014
Stop the greed. What is the real hidden agenda?
#32 Mar 5, 2014
Can Southland Leaders Compromise on Competing Local Casino Plans?
How the cash could be divvied up a point of contention (should Orland and Tinley get any?) as Homewood, Chicago Heights and others vie for a casino.
Leaders from Homewood, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Calumet City, Dolton and other communities pitched their casino dreams to a panel of state lawmakers Monday night at the Tinley Park Convention Center.
The Southland — snubbed for two decades as casino after casino won approval for economically disadvantaged Illinois communities — still wants in on the action.
The state legislature could consider another gambling expansion bill that could add five casino licenses, including one in the city of Chicago, and slot machines at horse tracks and the city's two airports. A panel led by Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), sponsor of one such bill in the Illinois House, convened Monday for more than four hours to hear from the dreamers, friends and foes.
Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch and Bill Paulos, CEO of Cannery Casino Resorts, promised to spend more than $200 million on a casino just a short drive away from the hearing, near Interstates 80 and 57.
"We can put a shovel in the ground tomorrow," Paulos said.
Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Orland Hills) is backing the Country Club Hills play and testified on its behalf, saying he believed it would bring in the most revenue.
South suburban casino advocates, whatever the town, have long argued that a Southland casino would keep gamblers from heading to the northwest Indiana casinos. Reps from the Joliet casinos testified in opposition to the south suburban locations, for obvious reasons.
Towns coping with high unemployment, such as Dolton, see the construction and the casino jobs as key to renewal — a key justification for the first casino licenses issued in the early 1990s to beleaguered river towns that has all but fallen by the wayside as casinos raked in higher and higher profits.
Backers of casino expansion predict $400 to more than $1 billion in new revenue for the state if a Chicago casino, slot machines and more casinos are allowed.
Paul Braun, mayor of Flossmoor and leader of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said casino dollars could help the entire area through a revenue-sharing pact involving many Southland towns.
Rita said local officials are "all over the board" on revenue-sharing.
With several competing Southland proposals, they cannot agree on a plan, reports Southtown columnist Phil Kadner, who wrote about the issue in his column, particularly when there is a great economic divide between the region's haves and have-nots.
"I was told that among the communities sharing in the casino profits would be Tinley Park and Orland Park," Kadner wrote, "a fact that visibly rankled some members of the House panel who felt those towns now generate enough local tax revenue from their shopping malls."
Rita wants the gambling revenue pulled in by governments to be used for roads, bridges, transit projects and job creation, not for government operating expenses.
The governor vetoed gambling expansion in 2011 and 2012, but the state is desperate for cash and advocates for more gambling believe this helps clear the path for passage of a bill. In addition to Chicago and a spot in the south suburbs, the other proposed casino locations in the bill include Rockford, Danville and Lake County.
Gambling foe Randall Blakey, representing Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, said it was clear most speakers favored expansion and total opposition was "clearly off the table."
"That was pretty evident," Blakey told bnd.com . "It's just a matter of where the casino is going to be and how the revenue-sharing is going to take place."
Rita has been conducting hearings around the state and said he will probably convent his next hearing in Chicago.
#33 Mar 5, 2014
Campaign contributions, no bid contracts, jobs for votes.
#34 Mar 5, 2014
Endless supply of Quinn stunts.
Taxpayers can't pay any more of your bills Governor Quinn.
Illinois taxpayers can't afford you.
#35 Mar 9, 2014
State Representative Robert Rita is the biggest liar!
#36 Mar 9, 2014
Put it to a vote. Let the people decide.
#37 Mar 9, 2014
The politicians and their followers are dividing the spoils.
#38 Mar 11, 2014
It is not to early to draw these conclusions.
#40 Mar 13, 2014
Under this plan, Rita said, Chicago and the state would split the casino revenue 50-50, but the city would also have to share its take with Cook County government and some south suburbs. There would be no other new casinos issued, and horse tracks would not get slots.
“Cook County and the south suburbs would receive millions of dollars each year from their shares of the Chicago casino,” Rita told me.
A second amendment to the proposed bill calls for a smaller Chicago casino that would still be state-owned. There would be four other casinos — one each in the south suburbs, and Lake, Winnebago and Vermilion counties. The tracks, except for one near East St. Louis, would get some slot machines, but those would be about half of what were contained in previous gambling bills.
In the past, all sites of future casinos were city-specific except for the south suburbs. With Rita’s plans, the new casino locations, except for Chicago, would be defined by large geographic boundaries.
Rita said the state would have to spend any revenue from new casinos evenly between education and public works projects. All local revenue in communities landing casinos and from slots at the tracks could be spent only on capital projects or pension funding, he said.
Rita had voiced concerns to me in the past that instead of using increased revenue to invest in their communities, host towns might increase salaries or spend the money in other ways that would not directly benefit the public.
Rita became the chief sponsor of gambling expansion legislation in the House more than a year ago when state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, stepped aside, citing the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The Senate passed a gambling bill, which Gov. Pat Quinn said he was anxious to sign, but Rita refused to present the bill for a vote in the House. He said he was concerned that “stakeholders,” people and groups that would be impacted by the bill, had told him they were never consulted about the bill.
Cook County made a last-minute bid to obtain gambling income from a south suburban casino, but Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apparently rejected a similar request regarding a city casino and Cook County backed off.
Rita eventually held public hearings on casino expansion in East St. Louis and Tinley Park and said he consulted with interested parties throughout the summer and fall.
“It became apparent to me that the state needed a streamlined bill, and we needed to consider new options,” he said.“The stumbling block to a Chicago casino had been (the city’s) request for its own gaming board. It did not want the Illinois Gaming Board overseeing development of a Chicago casino.
“By making the Chicago casino state-owned, it would be under the control of the Illinois Gaming Board, just like all the other casinos, so I’m hoping it would remove that stumbling block.”
Rita, however, said he had not consulted Emanuel or Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, about his amendments to the gambling bill.
“Emanuel will find out about what’s in the bill in about 10 minutes,” a laughing Rita told me Thursday afternoon.
The expansion bill cobbled together last year by Lang was, in Rita’s words, a “Christmas tree” that contained something for almost every special interest group in Illinois.
For example, there was a Depressed Communities Economic Development Fund and a Latino Community Economic Development Fund that would have received money from casino expansion. Exactly how that money would be spent wasn’t defined, but new state commissions would be created to determine what projects qualified for funding.
Rita said a $5 million fund to combat gambling addiction would be the only special fund in the new legislation.
#41 Mar 13, 2014
Rita said a $5 million fund to combat gambling addiction would be the only special fund in the new legislation.
The original gambling bill remains an option, but it could not be called for a vote unless Rita agreed or another legislator decided to sponsor the bill in the House.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the speaker has recused himself from gambling legislation due to a conflict of interest long ago and would likely avoid getting involved in the details of Rita’s proposal.
Last year, Quinn accused Madigan of pressuring Rita to pull the gambling bill off the table, while Rita said it was Quinn who had created problems in the past in achieving expanded gambling.
But Quinn, who has twice killed gambling bills due to concerns over ethics and regulation, indicated to me that he was anxious for gambling expansion to move forward.
One thing seems certain — Rita’s new bill will likely restart the entire debate over casino expansion, how it should be done and whether it should be done at all.
And that will give rise to new speculation over why, after years of negotiations to move gambling expansion forward, Rita’s measure breaks entirely new ground.
Having recently taken a new look at the old gambling bill, I find myself agreeing with the governor’s original assessment.
It spread gambling money all over the place just to get enough votes in Springfield.
That may be good politics, but it’s really bad public policy.
#42 Mar 14, 2014
Rita hasn't done himself any favors by staying in the limelight. His relentless media appearances mean that people are well aware of his political views, including those they disagree with.
Rita's major selling points were moderation and bipartisanship. Those qualities are now seen as weaknesses by the the most active American voters. Political activists on both sides want lawmakers who represent their own strongly held views - instead Rita alienated voters with his high profile active role with the BIIP political party, his hand in numerous political appointments, hot button issues that include campaign contributions from lobbyists, tax hikes, the troubled Robbins Limestone Quarry, Illinois pension and casino issues.
Rita is the state lawmaker who insulted his community with promises of bringing prosperity, jobs, opening of closed bridges, and funds for road repair from Springfield. He's also seen as the politician who conceived and inflicted the disliked BIIP party, appointments of his family members and friends on his own unsuspecting community. No wonder he's become so unpopular among voters.
#43 Mar 14, 2014
Rita, in the end will make the Madigans look bad. The Madigans created this monster. The Speaker, is ultimately responsible. way to go Bobby.
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