Bloomberg News

Quinn Promises Veto of Illinois Gambling Bill Absent Changes

October 17, 2011

(Updates with comments from Senate president and Chicago mayor starting in sixth paragraph.)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he will veto a gambling expansion bill unless lawmakers reduce the number of new betting sites.

While Quinn said he would support casinos in Chicago and four other places, the measure also authorizes slot machines at horse tracks, the state fairgrounds and at Midway and O’Hare airports. Quinn, a 63-year-old Democrat, said he does not want “Illinois becoming the Vegas of the Midwest.”

“I’m the goalie. I’m the final word,” Quinn said today at a Chicago news conference. “The current bill has major flaws in it.”

Quinn’s threat comes one week before lawmakers are to return to Springfield, the capital, for their fall session. Although the General Assembly approved the bill May 31, it didn’t send it to Quinn, so as to allow time to negotiate changes.

Plans for new casinos in Chicago and two of its suburbs, as well as Rockford and Danville are acceptable, Quinn said. The slot-machine expansion, however, is “excessive” and “not healthy for Illinois.” He said safeguards are needed to prevent corruption and provide “adequate revenue for education.”

On the Radar

Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, said in a prepared statement that lawmakers will “fold his recommendations into our ongoing discussion” and evaluate what is “passable by both chambers of the General Assembly.”

The measure passed the House and Senate with the minimum number of votes.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that he is “encouraged that the governor has come forward with a proposal.” Emanuel lobbied for a casino in the city, estimating it would create 7,000 to 10,000 jobs.

Illinois has nine riverboat casinos in suburban Chicago and elsewhere across the state. They’re operated by Ameristar Casinos Inc., Bally Technologies Inc., Boyd Gaming Corp., Caesars Entertainment Corp., International Game Technology, Penn National Gaming Inc., Shuffle Master Inc. and WMS Industries Inc.

--Editors: Stephen Merelman, Stacie Servetah

To contact the reporter on this story: Timothy Jones in Chicago at tjones58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net


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