Appearing at Oak Park's on Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a gambling expansion plan that would've added five new casinos in the state and allowed slot machines at horse racing tracks. Full text of Senate Bill 1849.
Quinn, flanked by reporters in the school's playground, said his main concerns were about integrity and ethics in regulatory oversight process.
"I think I did the right thing. We're not going to have loopholes for mobsters in Illinois, and the bill that was on my desk was woefully deficient when it came to protecting integrity and honesty in the regulation of gambling in our state," he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued the following statement on Quinn's decision: " ... Chicago loses $20 million a month and countless jobs to casinos in Indiana. Those jobs should be here in Chicago, supporting the families of our tradespeople and helping the entire city’s economic future.
"It is the responsibility of the Governor and all leaders in Illinois to stop this outflow of dollars and jobs," Emanuel added. "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.”
Quinn's veto, carried out hours before a deadline that would've automatically turned the bill into law, wasn't much of a surprise. The bill's biggest sponsor, State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), was not immediately available for comment. However, Lang , “Gaming is a legal industry today and this bill does not recreate the wheel but simply allows a viable industry to grow and prosper."
In May 2012, the Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation that would have expanded gambling in the state, but fell short of veto proof majority by two votes. That bill was also rejected by Gov. Quinn.
The Sun-Times reports proponents of gaming will attempt to override the governor's veto later this year. “The governor’s action today is disappointing but predictable,” Lang told the Sun-Times.
For months, Quinn has warned about what he views as shortcomings in the bill, saying the measure would not provide enough oversight of casino operators and other gambling interests. The Democratic governor also has said that any gambling expansion should set aside a proper amount of money for education.
Instead, much of the revenue from expanding gambling would go to "other areas, such as agricultural programs and paying off some of the state’s billions in overdue bills owed to vendors, schools and providers," via Illinois Issues.
Proponents of the plan are vowing to override the veto, possibly as soon as legislators reconvene in Springfield this fall.
Shortly before the playground press conference, Quinn spoke with the Oak Park fourth-graders in a muggy classroom, quizzing the students on the origins of Roosevelt Road, extolling the virtues of staying active and quoting a verse from school namesake Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which reads "it takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong."
It was a message he invoked again while explaining his stance on the gambling bill.
"If we do things wrong," he said, "we'll have a lot of explaining to do down the road."