Governor Pat Quinn and legislators in Illinois have been playing a cat and mouse game for several years over the expansion of gambling in the state. Recently, that game took yet another twist as lawmakers made changes to the latest proposal.
Lawmakers have been attempting to bring new casinos to Illinois for the past three years. Each time they have passed a bill involving gambling expansion, Governor Quinn has vetoed the legislation, claiming it was too broad.
In every failed effort, legislators sought guidance from Quinn on what would be an acceptable form of gambling expansion. The first few attempts were futile, but last year Quinn opened up to some portions of the bills that would need to be eliminated before he signed a gambling bill.
That revelation led to lawmakers again passing a bill that would bring new casinos to Illinois. Recently, the bill was scaled back with the fear of a veto looming. A section of the bill containing Internet gambling language was removed with the hope that would entice Quinn to sign off on the expansion.
Quinn has spoken recently about how he does not want the two forms of gambling expansion to happen simultaneously. While many states are moving towards Internet gambling regulations, Quinn has stated he is not ready to enter into that arena, or even a discussion about online gambling.
The pro-gambling lawmakers are prepared to push the issue on the Internet gambling, but said this week they will do so as a separate issue, not related to the land-based casino expansion being sought this session.
Illinois has fallen behind other Midwestern states when it comes to the gaming industry. Currently, Illinois has 10 riverboat casinos. Lawmakers, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, are pushing for additional land-based casinos.
Gambling proponents claim they can bring in $300 million to $400 million annually with the addition of new casinos in Illinois.