Put the Chicago casino on the East Side By Edward McClelland, Chicago Magazine June 20, 2019 at 3:25 pm Thirty years ago, when the Illinois General Assembly voted to allow riverboat gambling, the idea was to help faded river towns bypassed by modern transportation and technology. The state plunked floating casinos in Rock Island, Alton, Metropolis, and East St. Louis, promoting them as modern iterations of 19th Century Mississippi gambling boats. Closer to Chicago, “the boats” were moored on rivers in the satellite cities of Elgin, Aurora, and Joliet. The fiction of riverboat gambling didn’t last long. Throughout the 1990s, the boats were required to cruise during gambling sessions. That ended in 1999, when dockside gambling was allowed. Then, in 2011, the state planted a casino on land, in Des Plaines.