New Casino Bill Could Affect Walker's Project - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

New Casino Bill Could Affect Walker's Project

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WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- A proposal to bring a casino to Williamson County has apparently undergone a huge shift.

You'll find the details in a bill filed by Illinois Senate assistant majority leader Terry Link.

It's actually an amendment to senate bill 305, which governs casino gambling.

Buried deep in the bill, on page 375... language that lays out plans for six casinos in Illinois.  One each in Chicago and Cook County,  one in suburban Lake County... and one each in Rockford, Danville and finally, Williamson County.

For months, the owners of the Walker's Bluff winery have lobbied lawmakers to get a land-based casino on the property, to bring tourism, and it's money to the area.

This new bill seems to shift the focus to a so-called "riverboat" casino like ones seen elsewhere, basically a casino building, built on a series of barges tied together.

That would allow the expansion of casinos in Illinois without changing current gaming law, which requires casinos to sit on what's called a "navigable waterway", a practice which first emerged in Mississippi where casinos located on oxbows, or offshoots of the Mississippi River. 

The amendment would allow Walkers to build on the Big Muddy River, which flows into the Mississippi, or perhaps, connect to a nearby lake to build it's casino. 

It's similar to the configuration of most existing casinos in Illinois, Missouri and even down in Mississippi, where it sparked a casino boom which lasted several years.

A Walker's Bluff spokesperson couldn't confirm a substantial change in the company's plan, but she did say 

"We understand that there are negotiations underway and remain hopeful."

Experts say a shift in tactics may help insure the Walker's proposal moves forward along with the 5 other projects.

We'll continue to follow this still developing story, and keep you up to date on any action in Springfield.

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