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Video gambling passes Senate
By Joseph Ryan and John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/20/200 4:43 PM | Updated: 5/20/2009 6:29 PM

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Illinois senators approved legalizing video gambling machines in bars and truck stops across the state along with a host of new taxes on shampoo and candy and higher fees on vehicle registration to back a $20 billion public works spending package.

The Illinois Senate voted 47-12 this afternoon for the controversial expansion of gambling, once likened to "crack cocaine" by ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Adding up to three video gambling machines, which could be video poker or traditional slots, in bars and five at truck stops and in VFW halls could bring in more than $400 million a year, proponents argue.

Senators voted unanimously for the spending plan, which includes billions of dollars for new schools, roads and transit. The plan includes $13 billion in state funding and $7 billion in matching federal funds.

Opponents argue adding the video gambling machines would be too complicated and widespread to prevent teens from using and organized crime from profiting from. Several top Illinois law enforcement agents, including Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, oppose the plan.

"What a mistake," Dart said this afternoon after hearing of the vote. "This is a horrible idea because this is a form of gambling that by its very nature is very addictive... You are going to have guys dropping their whole paycheck at the bar."

Before becoming law, the proposal must be approved by the House and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn, who has signaled his openness to the plan. However, today's passage in the Senate comes after negotiations between Quinn and legislative leaders.

Lawmakers have been hungry for a public works spending package for years and have often turned to the expanded gambling to fund it.

How they voted

How local senators voted Wednesday on a deal to allow video slot machines at all bars, clubs and truck stops, put lottery tickets on the Internet, raise taxes on candy and beer and hike vehicle registration fees to pay for $20 billion in public works spending.:

Yes

Pam Althoff, a 32nd District McHenry Republican

Michael Bond, a 31st District Grayslake Democrat

Dan Cronin, a 21st District Elmhurst Republican

Kirk Dillard, a 24th District Hinsdale Republican

Susan Garrett, a 29th District Lake Forest Democrat

Dan Kotowski, a 33rd District Park Ridge Democrat

Terry Link, a 30th District Waukegan Democrat

Carol Pankau, a 23rd District Itasca Republican

Christine Radogno, a 41st District Lemont Republican

Jeff Schoenberg, a 9th District Evanston Democrat

No

Dan Duffy, a 26th District Lake Barrington Republican

John Milner, a 28th District Carol Stream Republican

Matt Murphy, a 27th District Palatine Republican

Chris Lauzen, a 25th District Aurora Republican