Gambling bill finally headed to governor


A long-dormant gambling-expansion bill is heading to Gov. Pat Quinn.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, quietly withdrew a motion to reconsider Senate Bill 744, a parliamentary move Cullerton had used that prevented the bill from being sent to the governor after lawmakers approved it in 2011. Quinn had called the bill “excessive” and threatened to veto it.

With the motion withdrawn, the bill will be sent to Quinn within 30 days. He has another 60 days after that to consider it.

Quinn Thursday would not say flatly what he intends to do with the bill, but didn’t indicate he’s softened his opposition to it.

“I’ve already indicated my thoughts about it in the past, so we’ll wait until it arrives and speak about it then,” he said.

If Quinn vetoes the bill or uses his amendatory veto powers to change it, the bill will die because the General Assembly that passed it is no longer in office.

The legislation allows for five new casinos, including in Chicago and Rockford, as well as permitting existing casinos to expand and horse racing tracks to install slot machines. If fully implemented, the number of gambling positions in Illinois would increase from 12,000 to nearly 40,000. Quinn has previously said that’s too much.

The governor also raised questions about what he felt were lax ethical standards in the bill.

Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, Senate sponsor of SB 744, said he’s willing to pass follow-up legislation to address any concerns Quinn has with it.

“I know we can do that with no problem,” Link said.

Link made the same offer on a second, similar gambling-expansion bill debated by lawmakers last spring, but Quinn rejected the idea. The bill passed without the follow-up legislation and Quinn vetoed it. Lawmakers did not override the veto last fall.

“I don’t know what he’s going to do (now),” Link said.

Doug Finke can be reached at 788-1527.