Joliet officials praise Quinn veto of gambling expansion
BY DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND DAVE MCKINNEY Chicago Sun-Times August 28, 2012 5:36PM
Gov. Pat Quinn speaks to students at the Longfellow Elementary School in Oak Park after his office announced his veto of the casino bill Tuesday, August 28, 2012. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times
Updated: August 28, 2012 11:27PM
JOLIET, Ill. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday vetoed as expected a controversial gambling bill, which would have put casinos in Chicago and four other locations across the state, plus add slot machines at racetracks.
The veto was welcomed by Joliet officials, where the municipality is home to the Hollywood and Harrah’s casinos. The Joliet casinos are about 30 miles from Hammond’s casino, which hugs the state line.
Mayor Tom Giarrante said Quinn made the right decision.
“The bill was just a matter of cannibalizing the other casinos,” he said. “I don’t think there is that much new money out there. Five new casinos in Illinois would really hurt those of us that already have them.”
City Manager Tom Thanas agreed.
He said the south suburban casino in particular would have hurt casinos in Aurora and the casinos in Joliet more than it would have stopped state residents from traveling to Indiana to gamble.
“The sites that were selected were driven more by politics than by science,” Thanas said.
The gambling expansion bill passed the Illinois Senate by 30 votes, the minimum required, Thanas said. It seems unlikely the Legislature will be able to override the veto with the required 36 votes, he added.
“We’ll continue to work hard to convince legislators that the bill that was passed earlier this year is not the long-term answer to developing an expanded gaming industry in Illinois,” Thanas said.
Quinn wanted a ban on campaign contributions from casino owners and managers, a regulation the bill lacked.
Quinn told reporters Tuesday morning that the gaming bill was “woefully deficient” with “very, very weak safeguards” but said a compromise could still be worked out with lawmakers.
Quinn said in a statement that, ”Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters.”