Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday vetoed the gambling expansion bill that would have brought a casino to Danville, as well as to Chicago and three other sites in the state, and would have permitted slot machines at racetracks.
“The most glaring deficiency of Senate Bill 1849 is the absence of strict ethical standards and comprehensive regulatory oversight. Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters,” Quinn wrote in his veto message.
“Notably this legislation lacks a ban on campaign money from gaming licensees and casino managers. We must prevent campaign contributions by gaming operators from infecting our political process.”
Quinn said the bill does not ensure “clear regulatory oversight” over the proposed Chicago casino.
Former state Rep. Bill Black of Danville, now the head of a group promoting expanded gambling, said the bill would mean potentially billions more in revenue to state and local governments.
"We missed an opportunity today to add 20,000 new jobs and generate more than $1 billion in one-time licensing fees and more than $200 million in new annual revenue," said Black. "Despite efforts that would have satisfied the governor's call for tighter restrictions and additional oversight, fiscal relief for the state has now been furthered delayed."
Rep. Chad Hays, R-Catlin, said lawmakers now would “redouble their effort” to override Quinn’s veto later this fall. The General Assembly is scheduled to return to Springfield for two weeks in late November and early December.
“We’re in pretty good shape in the House,” Hays said. “The Senate will be more work. We only got 30 votes for the bill and we may have lost one since. So that means we’re going to have to pick up seven more votes.”
He said pro-casino legislators “have been working diligently behind the scenes since the governor received the bill. We fully anticipated the veto and have been working on the head count that we will need to override the veto.
“For people who are enthusiastic about what this means for the Danville area, I would say the ball is back in our court and a lot of good people are working very hard to make sure we can do this without the blessing of the governor,” Hays said.
Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, who also supported the gambling expansion, said the legislation would have benefited the state as well as Danville, Chicago, Rockford, Park City and an undetermined south Chicago suburb.
“It’s disappointing at a time of tight budgets and a difficult economy that the governor would veto a bill that would bring in more money to pay down our backlog of bills and help communities that could really use the economic boost,” Frerichs said. “Our next step should be getting our votes lined up to override his veto during the veto session.”
Frerichs said that gaining seven votes in the Senate “is going to be difficult, but we’re elected to deal with the challenges facing the state and that’s what I intend to be working on the next few months before the veto session.”
“I don’t think anything is impossible and there are many people who will be open to changing their minds. It’s our job to go out and convince them of the merits of this.”
Frerichs' general election opponent, Champaign Republican John Bambenek, said he was skeptical of Quinn's stated reasons for vetoing the bill.
"Governor Quinn's opposition to gambling expansion was always opposition in search of justification," Bambenek said. "Ironically, I suspect his opposition has more to do with the campaign contributions he received from gambling interests that would be harmed by this bill than any real principled stand."
The bill is SB1849.