Chicago political interests are delaying passage of the expansion of casino gambling by insisting on writing special rules for the big city.
It's become increasingly clear that if Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is to sign a sound, ethical bill authorizing the expansion of gambling, he's going to have to write it.
And because it's clear that powerful interests in Chicago and the Illinois General Assembly are determined to write unwise special rules for a casino in the Windy City, we urge him to do so.
Quinn has twice vetoed legislation that would allow an increase in the number of casinos in Illinois as well as gambling at racetracks. A new casino would be located in Danville. But the big enchilada would be in Chicago, and it would undoubtedly do booming business.
Quinn and legislators have no dispute about those arrangements. But passing a bill has been complicated by efforts to undermine the state's authority to regulate gambling in Illinois as well as to write special rules for the Chicago casino.
For starters, Chicago interests tried to legislate the dismissal of the current members of the Illinois Gaming Commission. Chaired by Aaron Jaffe, the commission has zealously pursued its regulatory duties and been particularly mindful of keeping organized crime out of a business it desperately wants to pursue.
Chicago city officials also want their casino to be owned by the city, which is not a problem, but regulated by the city, not the gaming commission, which is a problem.
Those special rules resulted in Quinn's two vetoes. Now legislators are back with a third try. This one does not require the dismissal of gaming commission members but it does establish a dual regulatory system whereby Chicago officials will oversee some decisions and the gaming commission others. What's up with that?
Here's one more — the third legislative version provides that Chicago's casino license may not be revoked, no matter what kind of wrongdoing is discovered. Is that an invitation to skullduggery or what?
Chicago, like all of Illinois, is synonymous with corruption. It's a fact of life. But there's a difference between understanding the depth of the problem and encouraging it. The pending legislation does not just open the door to mischief, it institutionalizes it.
Quinn must remain resolute on this issue; he can show his determination by writing the bill everyone says they want — minus the monkey business.