Rockford's casino
6:37 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Quinn Vetoes Gambling Expansion Bill

Gov. Pat Quinn waited until the last minute to act on a plan that would have given Illinois five new casinos – including one in Rockford – and allowed slot machines at horse race tracks.  

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey expressed disappointment at the veto but was optimistic that a Rockford-based casino could be approved in the November veto session.

"While I am disappointed that the Governor didn't sign the bill in its current form,” Morrissey said in a statement, “I am encouraged by the continued support from both the governor and legislative leaders for a bill that would include a casino for the City of Rockford while strengthening state-wide ethics provisions.”

Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno, attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., says she wasn’t surprised at Quinn’s action.

“He was particularly concerned about the contributions aspect, the oversight aspect, and I think the size of the bill,” she said. “Frankly, I agree with him on all of those concerns. So I’m pleased that he vetoed it, and that we’ll be back to the drawing board.”

In his veto message to legislators, Quinn says his biggest problem with the planis a “complete lack of oversight” fora city-owned casino in Chicago.  And, while he says it doesn’t provide enough money for schools, the governor also wrote that “Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges.”

Morrissey said he has spoken with Quinn's legislative office and with House Democratic Leader Lou Lang and Senate President John Cullerton. “While I continue to support the need for any gaming bill to protect against ethics violations,” Morrissey said, “I join the majority of voters across the state who want a gaming bill approved that will support immediate jobs and economic development tools for the state.”

“Look, I think the governor’s approach to raising money is to raise taxes,” said House GOP Leader Tom Cross, “and I think that this is an industry whether you like it or not, it’s here.” 

Cross says he respects Quinn’s stance, but he says the governor should have negotiated with legislators instead of sitting back until afterthe measure got to his desk to make his demands.

Legislators will have a tough time finding the extra votes to override Quinn’s veto … but Cross says gambling expansion in Illinois isn’t dead.

Former State Rep. Bill Black, now a Danville alderman and chairman of the statewide Revenue and Jobs Alliance, took issue with Quinn’s veto.

"He also mentions that the regulatory structure needs to be strengthened,” Black noted. “Well, gee whiz, governor, the regulatory structure in the gaming board was set up in the early nineties. It has worked rather well. We haven't had a hint of a scandal or a major problem in all that time."

Quinn’s office distributed a terse memo to news media today to the veto. Anticipating the governor’s action, State Sen. Dave Syverson posted his pre-reaction on Facebook.

“Looks like Governor is going to veto Illinois gaming bill today,” the Rockford Republican posted. “That will hurt not just Rockford area but 4 other communities. This opens the door further for Indian casinos. It will also force cuts to key program like 4H and other Ag programs. All this to protect the DesPlaines Casino which is doing well enough by itself. Hoping for override.”

Black was not fully optimistic about the eventual result. "We're fairly confident we can override the veto in the House,” he said. “We are not as confident at this point that we have the votes to override the veto in the Senate."

Two weeks ago, House Speaker Mike Madigan, D-Chicago, said the General Assembly would be unlikely to override a veto of this bill due to the difficulty in putting a coalition together to pass the bill.

"The recession continues to plague Rockford and our surrounding communities,” Morrissey said. “Gaming alone is not the answer. But as a border community, we face continued loss of revenues from gaming concerns outside the state that will only get worse if a new Beloit Indian Casino is built first," Morrissey said.

Here is the full text of the governor's news media announcement:

Governor Quinn Takes Bill Action
**Tuesday, August 28, 2012**

CHICAGO –August 28, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today took action on the following bill:

Bill No.:SB 1849

An Act Concerning: Gaming

Creates the Chicago Casino Development Authority and amends several other statutes to expand gaming in Illinois.

Action: Vetoed