(Chicago, IL) — October 17, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today announced that would not sign the gaming expansion passed by the Illinois legislature in May. Instead, Quinn offered a proposal that, among other things, would prohibit the installation of slot machines at horse race tracks, a proposition that likely dooms any gaming expansion in Illinois.
“I have told [the governor] some of my non-starters,” Deputy House Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said in August. “Horse racing is a non-starter.”
That puts a fork in gaming.
With also the elimination of slots at the Springfield state fair grounds, Downstate lawmakers are left with virtually no incentive to vote for Quinn’s water-downed version.
In a statement, Quinn said:
“Over the past several months, my administration has conducted a thorough review of Senate Bill 744. After decades of fiscal mismanagement and ethical problems, a quick fix with significant and long-lasting consequences for our state is not the answer. My office has spent months examining the proposed bill’s potential economic, ethical, revenue and regulatory impacts. We studied the effects of gaming here and in other states. And I have met – at length – with both the bill’s supporters and opponents.
“Following this comprehensive review, I have determined this bill falls well short of the best interest of the people of Illinois. I will not sign SB 744 as it is currently proposed.
“To promote and protect the interests of the people of Illinois, I can only support a smaller, more moderate expansion that prevents corruption and provides adequate revenue for education.
“Illinois cannot expand gambling at all without ensuring proper oversight and full integrity. The Illinois Gaming Board must be equipped with ultimate oversight authority and the necessary tools to continue its exemplary record of keeping corruption out of our gaming industry.
“To prevent conflicts of interest, I also ask the legislature to take the additional step of banning campaign contributions to elected officials by gaming licensees and casino managers, as lawmakers in other states have done. If we allow any gambling expansion in Illinois, we should do so in good conscience, without the excessive influence of those that may benefit from such an expansion.
“Second, as I have said repeatedly, I believe the current bill is top-heavy with too many new gambling locations. I will only support a smaller, more balanced and modest expansion. As long as I’m Governor, Illinois will not become the Las Vegas of the Midwest.
“Lastly, I feel it is critical for any expansion to provide adequate revenue for state education and infrastructure. Any unfair tax breaks for lucrative casinos buried into this bill must be scaled back to ensure that the revenues generated go where they should – to statewide education and infrastructure.
In response, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said politiely:
“We are encouraged that the Governor has come forward with a proposal. We are anxious to work with him and the leadership in the Illinois General Assembly so that we can soon begin creating tens of thousands of jobs for Chicagoans and make the investment in the city’s aging infrastructure that will secure a successful future for Chicago.”
In private, Emanuel was quoted as saying: “F@#$%^&*()(*&^%$#$%^&*()(*&^!*&&^.”