St. Louis Public Radio News
11:14 am
Fri April 25, 2003

Blagojevich Considers Casino Takeover

Springfield, ILL. – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he's considering taking over Illinois' nine casinos and hiring a management company in an unprecedented move to operate the riverboats for the state's profit.

The governor says he is also considering auctioning off the nine licenses currently in use to raise money to fill the state's $5 billion budget deficit.

The casino industry immediately called the proposals "preposterous."

Blagojevich says the state's financial crisis is forcing him to keep an open mind about gambling expansion; something the
Democrat opposed while campaigning for governor last year.

But he added legalizing video poker, putting more gaming spots at casinos and adding slot machines to racetracks should not necessarily be considered an expansion of gambling. Gambling opponents argue such moves are expansion.

Two of the state's nine operating riverboats are in the Metro-East; in East St. Louis and Alton.