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Governor has new reasons for casinos
By John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/27/2007 12:09 AM

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SPRINGFIELD -- When Gov. Rod Blagojevich backed a casinos-for-construction deal last week, it marked the second time in recent months he'd reneged on a campaign promise to oppose gambling expansion.

He first broke that promise in May when he offered his support for a Senate casino deal that would have funded the governor's coveted health care expansion. At the time, Blagojevich said he wasn't thrilled with more casinos, but he'd make the sacrifice if it meant health coverage for needy families.

"Without health care, I'm not going to accept any new gaming proposals," Blagojevich said in late May.

That plan never came to fruition.

Now, he's backing the biggest gambling expansion since the state first legalized riverboat gambling even though it has nothing to do with health care.

The latest proposal adds three new casinos, lets existing casinos expand and has myriad other provisions all designed to finance billions of dollars in road, bridge and school construction.

When asked recently about his former campaign promise, Blagojevich said more gambling was better than raising taxes. He also recently slashed more than $400 million in project and program spending and said he plans to use his own authority to expand health care, though many lawmakers question if he actually has that authority.