It’s back to the drawing board for Illinois lawmakers after Governor Pat Quinn vetoed Senate Bill 744, putting an end to plans of bringing casinos to Chicago and forcing state lawmakers to begin from scratch in their attempt to bring casinos in the state.
Quinn’s decision to veto the bill, which actually predates another gambling expansion bill, SB 1849, that he already vetoed last summer, was hinged on his belief that the bill doesn’t account for any bans on campaign contributions by casino managers and gaming licenses, a necessary inclusion that he believes could keep corruption out of the industry.
“Unfortunately, Senate Bill 744 is even more significantly flawed than Senate Bill 1849,” the governor said. “Senate Bill 744’s most glaring deficiency is the total absence of comprehensive ethical standards and regulatory oversight.”
Quinn remains steadfast in his stance that he will not approve any gambling expansion bill that comes “without strong ethical standards, comprehensive oversight and dedicated resources for education”. So if state lawmakers are thinking of beginning a new push for another gambling expansion bill, they’d have to think long and hard about acquiescing to the demands, right or wrong, of the governor.
The governor has been on record that he doesn’t want Chicago to be known as the “Las Vegas of the Midwest”, something he believes the city would become if the bill was passed. To be fair, he did propose a scaled-down alternative, one that would still allow casinos in Chicago, Lake County, the south suburbs, Rockford and Danville. But that alternative didn’t include green-lighting slot machines at racetracks, O’Hare and Midway airports and the Illinois State Fairgrounds. What he doesn’t want and will probably fight to the end is for the state’s gambling expansion to become too big for its own good, despite expectations that if the expansion was allowed, would create substantial revenue for a state that clearly needs all the revenue infusions it can get.
But the man appears to be resolved in his position and has proven to be a pretty hard nut to crack. The bill’s sponsors, Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills) and Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), definitely have their work cut out for them. The Illinois governor has drawn the line in the sand and if they want his John Hancock, it looks like they’ll have to give in to some of the changes the governor wants to see before he puts ink to paper.