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Rivers Casino Shows What Expanded Gambling Could Offer In Illinois

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has been contemplating for several months what he would do if lawmakers send him a bill regarding casino gambling expansion. The bill has been held up by Senate President John Cullerton, but Quinn will eventually have to decide whether or not to veto the legislation.

This week, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines is showing the governor exactly what expanded gaming would offer the state. In some cases, there has been chaos surrounding the opening of the new facility, but for the most part, the casino has shown that Illinois residents are excited about their new entertainment destination.

"I was here waiting for the doors to open," said Margaret Lewis, who along with her friend Marsha Ward, were a couple of the first entrants when the casino opened to the public on Monday. "It is everything I imagined it would be and more. I'm real excited with what I've seen, and the slots have been great. I just wish they would fix the traffic situation."

One of the few negatives surrounding the Rivers opening was the traffic leading into the facility. Thousands of people came to check out the casino, and the rush of people caused back ups on Des Plaines River Road, between Devon and Touhy avenues. The jam even had its tense moments, when police officers urged travelers to turn around.

The casino had reached capacity by the early evening, and lines of people waited to get inside. Over 20,000 people visited the casino on the first day of operation, and the slots were generous on this day. Over $5 million was paid out to winners on Monday, with millions more handed out on Tuesday. It is a scene that Ward hopes continues.

"I already won $200 on one machine, and another $150 on another," said Ward. "I just hope they don't have the slots set loose on the first day and then I'm going to lose the rest of the time I come here. Hopefully, the slots will just keep paying out."

The likelihood of that happening are slim, as most casinos have their slots set at the limits with which the state authorizes they must pay out. Gaming regulators will be in charge of ensuring that the machines are kept at the proper percentages.

Those gaming regulators may soon have many more casinos to worry about. The bill that has been stayed by Cullerton would add five new casinos to Illinois, most notably, a new land-based casino in Chicago. Airports in the city would also gain the right top operate slot machines.

Governor Quinn had previously said he would veto any broad attempt to expand gambling, but Quinn has softened that stance in recent months. The governor and legislators are expected to discuss a way to scale back the bill, while still allowing the new gaming facility in Chicago.

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