Updated: December 22, 2012 6:27AM
The latest casino plan for the Southland, this one for Country Club Hills, is encouraging but hinges on the Legislature approving more casinos — something that itself appears more likely.
Lawmakers have approved gambling expansion in each of the past two years only to see it thwarted by Gov. Pat Quinn’s opposition.
Casino supporters are trying to find enough votes in the veto session that starts Tuesday to override Quinn’s veto of the latest gambling bill, which would allow five more casinos and slot machines at horse racing tracks. One of the new casinos would be located at a yet-to-be-determined site in the south suburbs.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), sponsor of the bill in the House, said its backers still hope to reach a compromise with Quinn but are prepared to try to override his veto if necessary. Quinn seems to be sending signals that he’s more open to a gambling deal — possibly seeing it as leverage in achieving pension reform, a more important goal.
If a deal fails, a similar bill is certain to be introduced in the new Legislature that will be seated in January and in which Democrats will enjoy veto-proof majorities in the House and Senate — meaning they could move a gambling bill without having to worry about a Quinn veto.
That’s why a North Las Vegas-based casino developer has presented a plan for a casino and hotel at the northeast corner of 175th Street and Cicero Avenue, near the Interstates 57/80 interchange. Cannery Casino Resorts is trying to get a head start because other towns are sure to seek state approval for a Southland casino — the mayors of Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Lynwood and Calumet City have expressed interest.
The Country Club Hills location is a good one, easily accessible from the two interstates, but we await other towns’ proposals before we advocate for one. Gambling expansion has our qualified support — we favor casinos for the Southland and Chicago and slots at tracks but are aware that a bill must contain more to be able to pass. How this plays out will be fascinating.