Gov. Quinn Vetoes Illinois Gambling Expansion

Gov. Pat Quinn formally vetoed Senate Bill 744 today. The bill would have added casinos in Chicago, Lake County, Rockford, Danville and the south suburbs, as well as allowed slot machines at race tracks, the Chicago airports and the state fairgrounds.

Here are excerpts from the governor’s veto letter: 

This is a bad bill for the people of Illinois. As I made clear when I vetoed Senate Bill 1849 last summer, I will not approve of any gaming expansion without strong ethical standards, comprehensive oversight and dedicated resources for education. 

Senate Bill 744’s most glaring deficiency is the total absence of comprehensive ethical standards and regulatory oversight. This bill also lacks a ban on campaign contributions by gaming licensees and casino managers, which is essential to keeping corruption out of the gaming industry.

Senate Bill 744’s shortcomings also include the lack of regulatory oversight over the Chicago Casino by the Illinois Gaming Board, the absence of any procurement guidelines or restrictions in connection with Chicago’s Casino contracts, and its inadequate support for education. Our economic future depends on the education of our children. Any gaming legislation must prioritize students and teachers.

In addition, this bill calls for an excessive expansion that is simply too much, including a casino at the fairgrounds where families bring their children.

As I did when I vetoed Senate Bill 1849, I call on the members of the General Assembly to work with me, my staff, the Illinois Gaming Board, the Illinois Racing Board, the City of Chicago, and all other interested parties to ensure that the final version of any gaming legislation includes strong ethical standards, clear regulatory oversight, and adequate support for our students and teachers.

Lastly, we cannot gamble our way out of our pension challenge. Any gaming revenue is a drop in the bucket compared to the $96 billion unfunded pension liability that Illinois faces. I urge lawmakers to prioritize public pension reform, the most urgent issue facing our state. The people of Illinois deserve no less.  

In November, Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel seemed close to a deal on a Chicago casino, noting publicly they can come up with a deal together.

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.

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