* I had a story in yesterday’s Capitol Fax that detailed, among several other things, how Gov. Pat Quinn didn’t explicitly say “No” when asked about slots at tracks during a meeting earlier this week. That was seen as a slight sign of progress because Quinn has always been a “No.” The Post-Dispatch followed up…
Are “slots at the tracks” back in play in Illinois?
The on-again, off-again proposal to allow Illinois horseracing tracks to host slot machines may be under discussion in state budget negotiations. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has been a hardcore opponent of the idea, and he still hasn’t endorsed it. But during one closed-door meeting with legislative leaders this week, he reportedly declined to reiterate his earlier entrenched opposition.
Capitol Fax, a Springfield political newsletter, reported on the meeting [yesterday] morning, citing unnamed sources. We asked the Administration to knock it down, and they wouldn’t. In an emailed response, Quinn’s office called the slots proposal a “distraction”—but didn’t reiterate the flat-out opposition (and veto threat) that Quinn has previously expressed on the issue.
We asked a second time if Quinn is still completely opposed, and got the same non-answer.
* The Daily Herald also got the same non-response from Quinn’s office and then interviewed some of the players, including the two sponsors…
State Sen. Terry Link said Thursday that he expects any effort to expand gambling in Illinois will include slot machines at Arlington Park.
Link, a Waukegan Democrat and top gambling-expansion supporter, said allowing for slot machines at Illinois race tracks is the only way to get lawmakers to approve a gambling expansion package that also likely would include new casinos, including in Lake County and in Chicago. […]
Slots at the racetracks have been a sticking point, though. The idea of a subsidy paid from casinos to the horse racing industry has been discussed seriously but mostly dismissed by Arlington Park.
Track officials say the state can’t be trusted to transfer the money. A subsidy that’s already supposed to be going from the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines to the horse racing industry is being held up by the state.
Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, did not rule out lawmakers trying to move gambling legislation that already exists, instead of coming up with a new plan. A proposal that included slot machines at Arlington Park, new casinos and some of the ethical safeguards Quinn has asked for was rejected by the House late last year but could come up again.
The governor’s office was not pleased at all with my story and spent some time trying to figure out just who I talked to and then called around and made some accusations regarding revealing info about private meetings.
The story’s impact is yet to be determined. Opponents think it could cause Quinn to back off any support of slots at tracks. Proponents think it could help. I don’t really care either way. It was a good piece.
* Bill Black: More gaming can help state out of money crisis