Quinn vetoes 2011 gaming expansion legislation
SPRINGFIELD -- As expected, Gov. Pat Quinn Monday vetoed a gambling expansion bill that would have brought five new casinos to the state.
“This is a bad bill for the people of Illinois,” Quinn said in his veto message. “I will not approve of any gaming expansion without strong ethical standards, comprehensive oversight and dedicated resources for education.”
Quinn said the measure, which was passed by lawmakers in 2011, was lacking in all of those areas.
The bill called for five new casinos in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Lake County and the south suburbs of Chicago. It also would have allowed existing casinos to expand and authorized horse racing tracks to install slot machines.
“This bill allows for an excessive expansion that is simply too much,” Quinn wrote.
Quinn said the bill lacked regulatory oversight of the proposed Chicago casino by the Illinois Gaming Board, didn’t ban campaign contributions by holders of gaming licenses and casino managers and did not direct enough gaming proceeds to education.
“Any gaming legislation must prioritize our students and teachers,” he said.
Finally, Quinn said gaming expansion doesn’t address the state’s most critical issue, which is inadequate funding of pensions. He said that should be the legislature’s priority.
The bill is now dead. It was passed by the previous General Assembly and the current group of lawmakers cannot override the veto.
Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, a leading House proponent of gaming expansion, said the future of expansion depends on talks between Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on how to structure a Chicago casino.
“Unless and until they come up with some agreement on what those 50 pages of the bill ought to look like, it’s going to be difficult for me to get the other 350 pages done,” Lang said.
Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527.