Illinois casinos could hurt Indiana budget

The potential for new Illinois casinos is threatening to throw the Indiana spending and tax cut plan out of balance. The Illinois Senate voted Wednesday for a Senate Bill permitting new casinos in Chicago, the south suburbs and three other cities; slot machines at horse racing tracks and the two Chicago airports; and a reduction in casino tax rates. The gaming plan, which now goes to the House, is strongly backed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has pledged to give schools all the revenue from the Chicago casino. The Indiana budget currently is balanced, with projected revenues exceeding spending by approximately $100 million in each year. However, the budget is likely to drop into deficit status if Illinois goes ahead with its casino expansion plans and projections of Illinois gaming tax revenue prove accurate.