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Gov. Quinn Vetoes Casino Expansion Bill

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UPDATED: 8/28/2012 – 6:07 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed the casino expansion bill.

The gambling bill would have established five new casinos in the state — including one in Chicago, which has been strongly favored by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It also would also allow slot machines at horse racing tracks.

Illinois’ 10 existing casinos could also expand under the bill.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports


Announcing his veto at Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park, the governor quoted Longfellow to make a point about his position on gambling expansion.

“It takes less time to do a thing right than it takes to explain why you did it wrong,” Quinn said.

The governor said the most glaring deficiency in the legislation was the strict absence of ethical standards and comprehensive regulatory oversight.

The governor wouldn’t accept the legislation because it did not include a ban on political contributions from casino owners and operators, and didn’t provide enough money for education.

“When it comes to gambling, ethics and integrity come first. We’re not going to have any loopholes that allow mobsters to rush through, and pollute our politics, and infect our politics,” the governor said. “The bill on my desk was deficient when it came to … regulations of gambling in our state.”

Mayor Emanuel said in a statement: “A Chicago casino would create thousands of crucial jobs for Chicagoans and provide resources that would be used to rehabilitate neighborhood schools. Chicago loses $20 million a month and countless jobs to casinos in Indiana.”

The mayor vowed to work “relentlessly” to allow for a Chicago casino.

Jerry Roper, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the city has missed an opportunity for much-needed revenue and jobs.

“It’s one more amenity that a city like Chicago should have, in order to drive more jobs, more economic development. This is where it happens,” he said.

In Indiana, gamblers leaving the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond agreed.

Kim Gilliam said downtown Chicago should have its own casino.

Keisha Slaughter said, “Some people gamble for fun, and they should be able to come to Chicago as part of tourism. It brings people, and it makes jobs. Bottom line, it brings jobs.”

Supporters say the casinos could bring an estimated 100,000 jobs and boost tourism and generate an additional $300 million to $1 billion a year in statewide revenue.

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the House sponsor of the gambling expansion plan, said Quinn “keeps mouthing platitudes about ethics and campaign contributions, and I just simply said to him, ‘What do you want? I will do it. I will do whatever you want that makes you happy,’ and he still refused to give me that information.”

Lang said Quinn also had the opportunity to use his amendatory veto power to put in the ethical and regulatory protections he wanted, but chose not to do so.

Opponents say more casinos could saturate some markets.

“I am not upset with the veto,” State Sen Christine Radogno, the Senate Republican leader, told WBBM’s Craig Dellimore down at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “I was not if favor of the bill. I thought it was entirely too big … I think we need to go back to drawing board.”

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