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Illinois Casinos Want To Stay Open 24 Hours A Day, 7 Days A Week

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Lady Luck is going to tire out awful quick if the Illinois Casino Gaming Association has its way.

The association, which represents the state's 10 casinos, is pushing the State Gaming Board to allow casinos to stay open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For now, Illinois casinos may only operate 22 hours a day at maximum.

Proponents of the plan say round-the-clock gambling hours would help raise revenue for Illinois and create jobs, the Associated Press reports. On the flipside, detractors say 24-hour gambling would only enable those with addictions.

All of Illinois' neighboring states have 24-hour casinos, while video gambling in the state is permitted all day and night, too. Illinois Casino Gaming Association head Tom Swoik says the state needs to extend casino hours to make the state's casinos more competitive.

"They just leave our casinos and go elsewhere, to Indiana or to places that have video gaming," Swoik told Fox Chicago, adding there is "no research to support that adding these hours would lead to increased gambling addiction."

Phil Blackwell disagrees. Blackwell, a pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Chicago, has long spoken out against any casino expansions as a member of the Task Force to Oppose Casino Gambling in Chicago.

"You've been in bars where there's a closing time and there's a reason for that," he continues. "Sometimes people won't go home. But also in bars, bartenders are able to stop serving somebody if they are drinking too much. In casinos, there's no impulse for anybody to stop anyone from gambling too much."

Illinois legalized riverboat gambling more than two decades ago, but the state's gambling regulators have repeatedly rejected proposals to extend operation hours.

The Illinois Gaming Board is scheduled to hear arguments on the proposal Sept. 19 during its monthly meeting, though the Tribune reports an immediate decision is unlikely.

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