As expected, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a gaming expansion bill that would have authorized casinos in Chicago, Rockford, Lake County, Danville and Chicago’s suburbs and allowed racetracks to become racinos.
Quinn is particularly adamant about not allowing slot machines at racetracks, and to protect from the increased involvement of organized crime in the state’s gaming industry. He has withstood considerable lobbying from the horse-racing industry and the towns of Rockford and Danville, which would benefit from the expansion.
Before he vetoed the bill, he expressed his reservations about it. “My most important concern is ethics and integrity, and oversight of gamblers and gambling interests, casinos and casino owners. If you don’t have tight regulation and oversight, you can end up with some very bad things for our state,” he said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The legislature, which has passed several casino expansion bills in recent years, only to see them vetoed, is not expected to take no for an answer. Lawmakers are expected to try again after the November election, although House Speaker Michael Madigan has admitted that there are not enough votes to override the veto.
The bill would have expanded the number of slot machines in the state from 12,000 to 32,000. Quinn has stood firm that this number would “saturate” the Illinois market.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been strongly pushing a casino in his city, has also announced that he doesn’t plan to give up. In a statement the mayor said, “I spoke with the governor this morning and we agreed, it cannot take another 20 years of discussion to draft and pass a bill that will be signed into law. I will continue to work relentlessly with all parties to pass a bill that will allow a Chicago casino to be built and implemented responsibly.”