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Cook County Board backs casino proposal

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Cook County Board members Tuesday endorsed gambling as the cure to all their ills, passing a nonbinding measure to encourage the state to authorize more casinos.
By a vote of 14 to 2, the board voted to endorse a plan in the General Assembly to add casinos and install slot machines at horse racing facilities.
Under a plan endorsed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, gambling would be expanded, but supervision would be drastically expanded as well. Cook County would receive about 3 percent of gross income from casinos and slot machines at racetracks.
"Gambling's a choice. Taxes are not a choice," said Commissioner Tim Schneider, a Bartlett Republican, in explaining why he endorsed casino expansion.
Commissioner Forrest Claypool, a Chicago Democrat, and Tony Peraica, a Riverside Republican, were the only commissioners to vote against the measure. Larry Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat who sometimes does lobbying work for gambling companies, was absent during the vote.
Claypool and Peraica stressed the hidden cost of gambling, with Peraica citing a study that found societal costs add up to more than the tax revenue collected.
With casinos, "a handful of insiders get rich and the poor get poorer," said Claypool.
Prior to the vote, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger got a chance to cast his first tie-breaking vote when Claypool put forth an amendment slightly refining language in the gambling resolution. Board members voted 8 to 8 to table Claypool's amendment and Stroger broke the tie by voting to table it.
There had been some controversy over whether Stroger, who is not a commissioner and does not have a regular vote, could vote at all, even in a tie. But an opinion by the state's attorney's office and the board's parliamentarian advised that Stroger does have the legal authority to break ties.



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