What’s Quinn’s real goal on gambling?
SouthtownStar editorial August 30, 2012 9:36PM
Updated: October 1, 2012 5:57PM
So, another chance to get a casino in the Southland and, more importantly, in Chicago, has failed, this time via a veto by Gov. Pat Quinn. The Legislature may try to override the veto in November, but the votes almost certainly aren’t there to do so.
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 (“loopholes for mobsters” he colorfully called it), 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.
Ideally, we’d like to see only a long sought and promised casino in a south suburb near the Indiana state line and one in downtown Chicago. Both would stanch the flow of gamblers to Hoosier casinos, while a city casino would capitalize on the hundreds of thousands of conventioneers who visit Chicago each year. But we get that more needs to be in the bill to draw enough “yes” votes.
You’d think that with so many millions in gambling money at stake, expansion supporters and Quinn could get on the same page, but their lack of communication is disturbing. Quinn says he and his aides explained what must be in the bill; its legislative supporters say that’s not true and his objections keep changing.
And why has that famous deal-maker, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, not been more involved? He needs to take a bigger role and drop the idea of the casino having some special and lesser oversight, unlike all other casinos in the state.
Is Quinn using gambling expansion as leverage in achieving pension reform? Does he want it tied to a plan to limit video poker machines? He may have to reveal his hand this fall.