Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday said he would veto the proposed, much-debated state gaming bill in its current form.
Quinn criticized the bill for its over-saturation of gambling in the state. He said it shortchanges education and fails to provide adequate oversight for the Illinois gaming board.
"The bottom line is we must do this right," Quinn said. "The proposed bill in gaming has long-lasting consequences. It impacts our culture and character of our state."
The governor said he would only approve a bill that allows gambling at five locations instead of 14 as part of a "smaller and more targeted expansion." He said he wouldn't approve gambling at the Illinois State Fair, state airports or racetracks. He also banned campaign contributions from casinos.
When it comes to video gaming, it should only exist in communities that expressly approve it, he said.
"It's better to go back and start over," he said. "It's better to do it right the first time."
The governor has not yet received the bill, but the legislature convenes Oct. 25 for a six-day fall veto session. Quinn said Monday he has heard from all sides and would veto the current bill if it ever arrives on his desk.
Illinois race track owners on Friday pleaded with the governor to sign the bill. Officials from Hawthorne, Arlington Park, Quad City Downs, Maywood and Balmoral said the bill would allow slot machines at their tracks and generate enough revenue to save their jobs.
On Monday, county and statewide ministers also sent a letter to Quinn in support of the bill, pushing for Ford Heights to get a casino.
"I'm not a supporter of gaming by principle," said Bishop Larry Trotter, "but it just seems to make sense that if the legislature approves the expansion of gaming, then Ford Heights should be the first choice due to the deplorable conditions the town faces."
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is for it too, especially in the face of his city's debt.