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Casino bill veto means ‘south suburbs get the shaft again’

Gov. PQuinn shakes hands after speaking students Longfellow Elementary School Oak Park after his office announced his vecasino bill Tuesday

Gov. Pat Quinn shakes hands after speaking to students at the Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park after his office announced his veto of the casino bill Tuesday, August 28, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 30, 2012 6:23AM



Southland leaders say the area has gotten “the shaft again” after Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday vetoed a gambling bill that would have brought a casino to the economically battered region.

Quinn said he vetoed the bill, which also would have added three other casinos statewide, because it contained insufficient “regulatory oversight.”

The townships of Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton and Worth all were in contention for the casino.

“I’m disappointed to the extent we constantly see a long line of cars leaving Illinois and going to Indiana through the south suburbs,” State Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest) said. “The south suburbs get the shaft again.”

State Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) said that “everybody is getting screwed” with Quinn’s decision.

“The south suburbs have always been the red-headed stepchild,” Riley said. “Every time we have these fits and starts, the people 15 miles to the east of us (in Indiana) have to be laughing their butts off.”

State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights), a co-sponsor of the bill, called Quinn’s decision disappointing and questioned the governor’s commitment to the region.

“We’re in desperate need of any economic engine that will come in our area to stimulate our economies here locally,” DeLuca said.

He said adding a casino might have pushed other businesses and industries to relocate to the south suburbs.

“It’s about confidence,” DeLuca said. “It’s about reducing the risk that they would take, and this would have helped.”

Ed Paesel, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, said a new casino in the south suburbs is too important for legislators to “let it die.”

“The fact is that many Illinois residents are taking their gaming dollars to Indiana,” Paesel said.

But he said the effort made “huge strides” with Quinn because the governor opposed fewer of the provisions than previous bills.

Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch, who made a push to bring a casino to his city, said he wasn’t fazed or disappointed. He believes landing a south suburban casino is just a matter of time.

Welch said he was more upset about how the possible south suburban sites were pitted against each other.

“A casino would be a home run in our area,” Welch said. “We’re all in this together.”

Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin, who was vying for a casino in his village, called Quinn’s veto a “devastating decision.”

“I think it’s a loss for southern Cook County,” Griffin said. “We need something desperately.”

Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau president Jim Garrett said he thought the casino bill had a 50 percent chance of passing. He said a casino would be a “destination driver” to the area, something needed for the jobs it would create and the tax revenue it would provide municipalities.

“It’s disappointing but we’ve faced disappointment before,” Garrett said. “We pick ourselves up and keep trucking and see what happens.”



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