Quinn Vetoes Illinois Gambling Expansion

Gov. Pat Quinn wasn't bluffing when he said he wasn't a fan of the Illinois gambling expansion plan.

After considering many scenarios, including an amendatory veto which reportedly was how the governor was leaning a day earlier, Quinn on Tuesday vetoed the gaming bill, again calling on lawmakers to fix the legislation's shortcomings.

In a letter to the Senate, Quinn, who long has said he would veto a bill that introduces gaming without proper oversight, said "it is critically important that any expansion of gaming in Illinois be undertaken thoughtfully and carefully."

He went on to say Illinois has "one opportunity to get it right" to create jobs and foster economic development. And though he noted Senate Bill 1849 addresses some of the noted problems with the previously dismissed bill, namely fewer casino locations, Quinn said it has a "glaring deficiency" in the absence of ethical oversight.

"Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters," Quinn wrote.

Lawmakers passed a bill earlier this year that would create five new casinos -- a land-based site in Chicago and four more on riverboats. The bill would also have allowed slot machines at horse racing tracks for the first time, another point Quinn has spoken out against.

Quinn said his biggest concerns are integrity and oversight of gamblers and casino owners. He also 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."

Quinn also said the bill doesn't provide adequate support for children and education.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a strong proponent of a casino in Chicago, hasn't yet commented on Quinn's veto but said in the past he wants the revenue for schools not city coffers.

"As I've said before and I'll say it again," Emanuel said, "if we were to get a casino, I'd like to direct all the resources to school modernization and school improvement so our kids will be in modern school buildings with a full school day and full school year."

Emanuel said earlier this year the new casino would be the financial engine for miles of new roads and sewer lines, along with millions of dollars in rehab of the Chicago Transit Authority. Emanuel also has said Chicago has a casino but it's in Hammond, which continues to rake in money the mayor believes belongs to the Windy City.

Quinn said a casino can't solve money troubles.

"Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges," he wrote. "Even a casino on every street corner cannot repair the state's $83 billion unfunded pension liability."


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