Quinn calls IL gaming bill "excessive" but leaves door open
The measure, which was passed by both houses of the state legislature, provides for five new casinos, including one in downtown Chicago, the addition of slot machines to seven racetracks and the expansion of nine existing riverboats. All told, it could raise up to $1.5 billion in upfront licensing fees for the cash-strapped state and increase the number of gaming positions from 12,000 currently to 39,200.
“I have told the legislators over and over again the people of Illinois do not want an excessive gambling bill that’s top heavy, and I think I reflect the public sentiment on that,” Quinn said yesterday in a news conference, while restating his conditional support for the downtown casino. “In Chicago, I have said I can see if it’s properly done, an opportunity for a gambling casino. But once the General Assembly got this subject, both House and Senate, it got more and more top heavy.”
The bill is also opposed by the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, whose executive director, Tom Swoik, told the Chicago Sun-Times that, “going from 12,000 gaming positions to 39,000 doesn’t make a lot of sense,” seeing that statewide casino revenues have declined 32 percent in the last three years. He estimates that passage of the measure as is would result in additional declines of 20 to 30 percent.
Quinn could use amendatory veto powers to change the bill, but first, the Illinois Senate must consider a motion filed by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) to reconsider the vote. The Senate adjourned last week without addressing the motion.