Quinn Breaks Silence On Gaming Expansion

Published: October 17, 2011 05:01 pm EDT

Members of both the Illinois racing community and the state senate have been waiting quite a while for Governor Pat Quinn to officially comment on the expanded gaming bill for the state. Quinn broke his silence on Monday, October 17, and those in the horse racing industry probably didn't want to hear what he had to say


In a 13-minute address to the media, Quinn stated that he does not support the bill. "I've spent a lot of time looking at this bill of 409 pages," he said. "It is not actually on my desk. It has not been transmitted from the Illinois Senate to my office, and I think that indicates something about the bill itself."

Quinn went on to say, "I think it is important that the people of Illinois know that the current bill has major flaws in it and it's just not acceptable." He explained that one of the flaws is that the bill "fails to provide adequate oversight for the Illinois Gaming Board." Quinn stated that the board "needs to have total, complete oversight with proper authority in order to regulate gambling" and that the bill "doesn't give the gaming board sufficient time to make licensing and regulatory decisions."

Quinn outlined other flaws, among them being that the bill asks the state to provide issuance of video gaming licenses without adequate time for background checks, and that the bill over-saturates casino gambling in the Chicago area and in other parts of our state. "We cannot have excessive gambling. We have to scale it back," he said. "We must have a much smaller expansion of gambling." The governor also stated that the bill "gives tax breaks to wealthy casinos and it shortchanges Illinois education and infrastructure."

One thing that Gov. Quinn did reiterate many times was that integrity must be paramount. "I think there should be a framework for doing this right, and I think that framework begins with the importance of preserving integrity at all times and preventing corruption. I was elected to clean up Illinois government and not do things the old way. We're not going back to the old way," explained Quinn, who also said that like six other states, Illinois should ban campaign contributions by gaming licensees and casino operators.

"The current bill envisions 14 (additional) casino gambling locations in the state of Illinois. We have 10 now, and they want to go to 24. I think that is way too much and I think the people feel the same way."

Quinn named the districts where he would accept gaming expansion as being Chicago, Southern Cook County, Lake County, Rockford and Danville. He stated that he does not approve of gaming at O'Hare Airport, Midway Airport or at the Illinois State Fair. He also stated that he is in support of gaming expansion "only in those communities that expressly approve the video gaming in their premises."

In explaining why he approves of expansion in the aforementioned areas, Gov. Quinn stated that the influx of gaming would come to sectors of the state which are depressed areas that need jobs; areas which can capture gaming revenue which is currently going to neighbouring states, and areas which promote overall geographic balance to prevent gaming over-saturation. Quinn also said that under his framework the Chicago area would have three new gaming operations instead of nine.

"With respect to casino gambling at racetracks, I do not support that, our proposal doesn't support that, and our framework doesn't support it," Quinn said bluntly near the end of his address. "I think we have to be realistic here, casino gambling in 14 different locations in Illinois is way too much. My proposal is much smaller, it's targeted, it keeps the original intent of the law and I think that is the only way to go."

Quinn also added that he wants "to maintain appropriate support for horse racing and related businesses. I think that is provided for in the current law of Illinois."



Good for him!!

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