Gambling Expansion Gets Second Quinn Veto
Reporting in part from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky. Last update 4:04 p.m.
Legislation to expand gambling the General Assembly approved nearly two years ago is finally dead. Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a measure that would have given Illinois five new casinos.
When Governor Quinn gives his annual budget address later this week, he's expected to highlight Illinois' plethora of financial problems.
Which is what frustrates supporters of gambling expansion, who say more casinos would be like hitting the jackpot.
This is the second time Quinn rejected legislation that would give Chicago, Rockford, Danville and two other locations casinos. It would also have put slot machines at horse race tracks.
The horse racing industry in Illinois has lobbied for slot machines at tracks.
At Fairmount Park Racetrack in Collinsville, Ill., Lanny Brooks---the executive director of the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association---says there could be good news on the horizon, as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the governor are working on a bill together.
“The governor and the mayor have been involved with Senator Cullerton in writing a bill with their language in it," Brooks says. "So the governor now really has no reason to veto this bill if it passes in the House and Senate.”
Brooks says the new legislation could show up as early as this week and will likely include slots at horse tracks.
But getting new gambling legislation passed through the Senate and House could be tricky, especially with new members in the General Assembly..
In his veto message, Quinn says this version's most "glaring deficiency is the total absence of comprehensive ethical standards."
The measure's sponsor, House Democrat Lou Lang, says legislators embrace adopting tougher regulations.
"The governor's never told us with specificity what it is he wants," Lang says. He alludes to certain things but guesswork isn't going to get it done because every time we guess … he moves the goal line on us."
Lang says gambling negotiations continue.
Quinn's veto message also hints that he won't approve more casinos unless lawmakers first reduce the state's pension costs.
Follow St. Louis Public Radio on Twitter: @stlpublicradio