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Video Poker: New Bill Could Penalize Towns That Ban Video Gaming

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A new bill filed in the General Assembly would withhold funds from capital projects in areas that ban video gaming.

Video gambling was legalized by the legislature in 2009, in an attempt to help pay for a $31 billion statewide construction project. But with more and more suburban towns choosing not to allow the games in their communities--per an opt-out proviso in the original law--the state is getting anxious about meeting anticipated revenues from the program.

TheSun-Times reports:

"People voted for the capital bill. They wanted all the money it provides, but they don't want to pay for it. There has to be a consequence," said Sen. Mike Jacobs (D-East Moline), the bill's chief sponsor.

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Jacobs argues that the machines are already being used illegally, and it's only fair the state should stand to profit off them.

"You can't say, 'We want to benefit from dirty money, but we don't want to get our hands dirty getting it,'" he said.

The proposed legislation would force communities that ban video gaming to come up with the revenues expected from the machines, or else face deductions in funding in other areas.

Video poker is already banned in Chicago. And while Mayor Richard Daley indicated last year that he might reverse the ban to help fund the bill, he has been less than enthusiastic about the issue recently.