Anyone who bet that Gov. Pat Quinn was softening his opposition to gambling expansion just lost a lot of money. In January, Quinn declared his intention to veto a bill that passed both houses of the General Assembly, with support from Mayor Rahm Emanuel. So legislators tried again this week, with the House voting 69-47 to pass a Senate bill that will allow slots at racetracks and add five casinos, including one in Chicago.
According to Capitol Fax, Quinn is said to be angry that Craig Duchossois, son of Arlington Park owner Dick Duchossois, donated money to Bill Brady in 2010. (Quinn's office says that is false.) He specifically criticized the bill’s failure to ban political contributions by gambling interests:
“It’s ironic that on the very day that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced his resignation, the Illinois House would pass a gambling bill that continues to have major ethical shortcomings.
“This new bill falls well short of the ethics standards I proposed in my framework last October. Most importantly, it does not include a ban on campaign contributions as lawmakers in other states have done to keep corruption out of the gambling industry and out of Illinois. Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and bordering states like Iowa, Michigan and Indiana have all approved such bans.
“It does not provide the Illinois Gaming Board with sufficient time to make critical licensing and regulatory decisions. This bill also does not provide adequate oversight of the procurement process. It does not ensure clear oversight of the proposed Chicago casino.
“As long as I’m governor, I will not support a gambling bill that falls well short of protecting the people of Illinois. It is clear that this gaming bill still needs significant improvement.
“Finally, Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges. I urge the members of the Illinois House and Senate to pay close attention to the most pressing issues that we must address by next Thursday, May 31 –pension reform and Medicaid restructuring.”
Meanwhile, Bill Black, a former state legislator now lobbying for the horse racing industry, issued a statement praising the bill:
“The Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance commends the leadership demonstrated today by the Illinois House of Representatives. With the tens of thousands of jobs and the hundreds of millions in new revenue that the passage of SB 1849 will create, our state has now officially taken the first step on the road to financial recovery. Thank you to our House members in Springfield and to Representative Lou Lang and Senator Terry Link for working so hard to get this done. We hope now that members of the Illinois Senate will act in kind.”
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