Governor Quinn vetoes gambling expansion bill

August 28, 2012 (OAK PARK, Ill.)

The bill, which has been on the governor's desk since June 29, would bring casinos to Chicago and to several suburbs. It also calls for legalizing slot machines at Illinois horse racing tracks. The number of gaming positions in Illinois would nearly triple to 32,000.

The Chicago-Sun Times was reporting early Tuesday that the governor would veto the bill.

Nothing on Quinn's public schedule for Tuesday had anything to do with the gambling expansion bill, however. Instead, the governor was scheduled to visit Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park to talk to kids about the new school year and the importance of education.

Quinn did tell ABC7 Chicago on Monday that he would make a decision as the 60 days he had to act came to an end. If he does not make a decision, the bill automatically becomes law.

"I don't like the bill at all, you know," Quinn said.

From the get-go, the governor has been opposed to the bill, saying it lacks adequate ethical safeguards, and that slots at the tracks is the wrong way to go.

But proponents say an anemic economy is evidence that Pat Quinn should change his mind.

One option Quinn has it to use his amendatory veto pen to keep the parts he can live with and throw out the parts he doesn't like.

"We're not going to be a wide open state, the Las Vegas of the Midwest. That's not right," Quinn said back in October 18, 2011.

Aaron Jaffe is chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, which is preparing to launch the start of video gaming in Illinois in a couple weeks, a massive logistical undertaking. If there were to be a green light for more casinos on top of that?

"We're tremendously overloaded. We'd have to more than double our staff," said Jaffe.

After it approved video gaming, the state General Assembly took roughly six months before it appropriated any money to hire more gaming board investigators and regulators. Even now -- with video poker about to start -- Jaffe says the gaming board staff has only two-thirds the manpower it needs.

"I don't see where the governor's gonna say hire 'em when he has no more money for education and they cut education by tremendous amounts of money," Jaffe said. "Certainly education takes precedence over casinos."

The governor's opposition to gaming expansion has been strongly worded in public.

There was no word on exactly when Governor Quinn would announce his decision Tuesday.

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