Illinois Lawmakers Consider Expanding Video Gambling

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By Matthew Searcy

WSIL -- Gamblers in Illinois may soon have more options. Some state lawmakers want to raise the number of slot machines allowed at truck stops to pull in more revenue from out-of-state drivers.  

Truck stops are currently allowed a maximum of five machines but the new plan would double that.   
"When the machines came in January it was a slow start but it has definitely grown week to week since then," said Pilot truck stop manager Aaron Vines.  
 
He says his five new slot machines racked up more than $30,000 in revenue for the business last month.  
 
"We do have times where all the machines are full and you can see in the room we have a couple of tables set up and a television for those who are waiting," explained Vines.  
 
Businesses across the state have installed more than 14,000 machines since video gambling first launched in 2012.  This January gamblers spent $500 million at the slots.
 
The business generates nearly $10 million in tax revenue for the state every month. A major reason a senate panel recently endorsed a plan to raise the number of machines at truck stops.  
     
"Extending it and putting more games in there would definitely help out," said Vines. 
 
But not everyone agrees.  
 
"People think that gambling is an easy solution to the state's economic woes," said State representative John Bradley. "It's not. It's a regressive tax. It targets people in the state that mostly can't afford it." 
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