Group: South suburbs should share any area casino proceeds

Gregory Tejeda – Times Correspondent

TINLEY PARK | At a time when Illinois communities prepare to fight over which may receive a proposed casino, one local group said south suburban communities should share in the potential for financial benefits.

South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association President Paul Braun told the Illinois House Executive Committee it believes the south suburbs will suffer if a casino in the area devolves into a financial fight between communities.

Braun, the village president of Flossmoor, told the committee any bill approved by the General Assembly to expand the number of casinos ought to include a revenue-sharing provision.

The association would want to get a share of the casino proceeds, then split it among the 43 municipalities of the group. Braun said communities struggling financially would receive a larger share, but said all should get something.

“We see the 43 communities as one,” said Braun. “We wouldn’t presume to tell communities how to spend their dollars. Some of them might need it for daily operations costs, while others might use it for special projects.”

State Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, didn’t agree. Homewood has its own agreement with East Hazel Crest to develop a casino together. He said that under the association’s proposal, wealthier communities such as Tinley Park and Orland Park would also get benefits.

“Why should all 43 communities be included when some need it more than others?” he said.

State Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, said the bill as drafted, already includes provisions calling for sharing of revenues from a casino in the south suburbs.

Officials from communities such as Chicago Heights, Ford Heights and Lynwood were present, hoping to learn information that would help them strengthen their own proposals.

Dolton village President Riley Rogers said the village owns 88 acres of land on Dolton Road just west of the Bishop Ford Freeway that could become a casino. Rogers told The Times it would be the site closest to the Chicago city limits and just one municipality away from the Illinois/Indiana border.

Rogers said he’s trying to make up for lost time, as former village President Ronnie Lewis, “never presented anything to try to bring a casino to Dolton.”

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