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Rosemont casino offer gets the cold shoulder
By Ames Boykin | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/5/2008 12:12 AM

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Rosemont has found no takers in Springfield in its bid to turn its theater into a state-run casino.

Mayor Bradley Stephens said Wednesday a trip last month to lobby lawmakers in the state capital got Rosemont nowhere. Still, he's keeping the offer on the table.

"I feel my dad's frustration," said Stephens, referring to the late Mayor Donald E. Stephens' unfulfilled goal of landing a casino.

Stephens' proposal calls for a state-run, land-based casino at its Rosemont Theatre, which could generate $726 million.

Rosemont would relinquish the $10 million a year it would normally get in tax revenue. In turn, the state would build a parking garage, buy Rosemont Theatre and renovate it for about $172 million.

Stephens blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat. But Madigan has said he thinks choosing a casino site is the role of the Illinois Gaming Board.

Stephens said he's a "little green" when it comes to political brokering.

But he finds the deal a no-brainer and expected a warmer reception in Springfield. A Rosemont casino promises to be lucrative and would help other gambling expansion plans to thrive, including slot machines at Arlington Park, he said.

"If (the) state puts (a) casino in Rosemont, they can put a slot machine in everybody's basement. It doesn't matter to me," Stephens said.

Stephens left it unclear Wednesday how long the offer will stay on the table.

Rosemont is interested in developing the land around the theater and a casino plan would greatly affect those plans, he said.

Village officials continue to line up entertainment for the theater.