What does Quinn really want on gambling?
Herald-News editorial August 30, 2012 9:56PM
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:59PM
We were encouraged to see that another chance to get more casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, has failed, this time via a veto by Gov. Pat Quinn. The Legislature may try to override the veto this fall, but the votes don’t appear to be there.
In vetoing the expansion bill passed last spring, which would allow five more casinos and slot machines at horse tracks, Quinn cited a lack of regulatory oversight over a Chicago casino, not enough of the gambling revenue going for education and not banning casino companies from donating to political campaigns (a provision that’s likely unconstitutional).
The bill was similar to one approved by legislators last year that never got to Quinn because he made it clear he would veto it. His main objection then was slots at the tracks, which just about everyone says downstate lawmakers insist on for their support for an expansion bill. Curiously, Quinn didn’t mention the slots as a problem this time.
We think Illinois, ready to soon launch thousands of video poker machines throughout the state, has reached the saturation point with gambling, and no further expansion is necessary. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, open just more than a year, is taking revenue from the four other Chicago-area casinos and video poker at your local bar or restaurant will fuel that trend.
We could live with adding only a casino in downtown Chicago, which is likely inevitable, to capitalize on the hundreds of thousands of conventioneers who visit the city each year and now go to Des Plaines or Hammond to gamble. But that limited expansion likely would not fly in Springfield, lacking enough benefits to draw the required number of “yes” votes.
It’s odd that gambling expansion supporters and Quinn can’t get on the same page. Quinn says he and his aides explained what must be in the bill; its legislative backers say that’s not true and his objections keep changing.
Is Quinn using gambling expansion as leverage to achieve pension reform in November? Does he want it tied to a plan he suggested previously to limit video poker machines? He may have to reveal his hand this fall.