Quinn vetoes gambling bill, suggests he'd sign a different one

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a second gambling bill Monday but left the door open to agreeing on a third attempt.

Danville is one of five Illinois communities that stood to get a riverboat casino out of the legislation (SB 744) that Quinn vetoed Monday.

"This is a bad bill for the people of Illinois," Quinn wrote in his veto message. "As I made clear when I vetoed Senate Bill 1849 last summer, I will not approve of any gaming legislation without strong ethical standards, comprehensive oversight and dedicated resources for education."

Later in the message, though, Quinn called on legislators "to work with me, my staff, the Illinois Gaming Board, the Illinois Racing Board, the city of Chicago and all other interested parties to ensure that the final version of any gaming legislation includes strong ethical standards, clear regulatory oversight and adequate support for our students and teachers."

But he again cautioned that lawmakers first tackle the state's huge public pension problem.

"Any gaming revenue is a drop in the bucket compared to the $96 billion unfunded pension liability that Illinois faces," he said. "I urge lawmakers to prioritize public pension reform, the most urgent issue facing our state."

Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, the chief House proponent of a Danville casino and a co-sponsor of the gambling expansion legislation, said he wasn't surprised by the veto.

"I don't see this as a setback," he said. "This is no surprise to me. It's just a formality because the governor had said he wouldn't agree to this."

The bill Quinn vetoed Monday had actually been passed by the Legislature in the spring of 2011, but Senate President John Cullerton filed a motion to reconsider the vote and didn't lift it until Jan. 8, 2013, finally sending the bill to the governor at that time. Because it had been passed by the previous General Assembly, this General Assembly cannot attempt a veto override.

Hays said expects negotiations to begin soon on a third version of a gambling expansion bill.

"It's my hope that the governor will become more engaged in the process this time," he said. "I'm certain that the mayor of Chicago is extremely interested in this bill and wants to see this happen.

"Danville isn't the problem with this bill. Danville isn't the barrier with any of this," Hays said. "The governor has said he has no problem with Danville being in the bill."

Other communities that stood to get a casino out of the vetoed legislation included Chicago, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs of Chicago. The legislation also would have allowed slot machines at racetracks.

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