Gov. Pat Quinn actually tried to give Mayor Rahm Emanuel a hug today.
Quinn drew the mayor closer to the podium Friday as they both seemed to finally be on the same page when it comes to a Chicago casino. At a joint news conference Friday on a separate topic, both the mayor and the governor suggested a deal is close.
“I'm optimistic that by the 9th of January that we can come up with a bill that meets all of our criteria,” Quinn said, eluding for the first time since vehemently vetoing the idea that he would approve a Windy City casino.
"The mayor and I are very close on the issue of strong regulation and ethics and making sure the money goes to schools and infrastructure on schools,” Quinn said.
Emanuel has lobbied for a casino, the first inside city limits, since his election and tied the casino to improving school buildings throughout the city.
"Unlike any other casino in the state, the city of Chicago's casino, all of the resources will go into modernizing the Chicago Public Schools systems and their facilities," Emanuel said Friday, emphasizing that with money to improve education, Chicago students can "compete for and win" future jobs.
As for a casino deal, Emanuel says “I believe we are very close.”
In August, Quinn said his biggest concerns with expanding gambling are integrity and oversight of gamblers and casino owners. He noted the bill includes no ban on campaign money from gaming licensees and casino managers, as well as no clear regulatory oversight over the proposed Chicago casino.
"Permitting the Chicago casino to operate without the appropriate oversight of the Gaming Board is not good for Illinois," he said in August.
Quinn remains undecided about other sticking points surrounding gaming legislation, including opening casinos in other cities throughout the state and whether he'll allow slot machines at race tracks.
It looks like there could be some very interesting days from Jan. 3 to 8 in Springfield, with the lame duckers still able to cast votes.