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Slots at tracks a possibility? Maybe

Friday, May 18, 2012

* 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.

* Related…

* Bill Black: More gaming can help state out of money crisis

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 9:47 am:

    –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 about revealing info about private meetings.–

    Governor’s Plumbers Unit? It’s a juvenile waste of time. A simple rule of politics is never say anything you don’t want to see on the front page.

  2. - mark walker - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 9:57 am:

    “I heard that the dog didn’t bark” isn’t much of a story, yet. We shall see.

  3. - Aldyth - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 10:02 am:

    I got a phone call and a ten minute opinion poll on the subject last night.

  4. - mokenavince - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 10:26 am:

    Slots at tracks,church basements, VFW’S, why not.
    The gambling genie is out of the bottle,who are we kidding people gamble on everything,let the people play.

  5. - Dirty Red - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 10:30 am:

    “Talk to Rich Miller” wasn’t on Stermer’s printed agenda?

  6. - wishbone - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 11:21 am:

    “…let the people play.”

    Absolutely. In my view people (myself included) waste money on all kinds of things. It’s called freedom.

  7. - Irish - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 11:46 am:

    I don’t understand the reluctancy to the gaming bill, when we are the only state that sells our lottery tickets on line.
    The people at the track are already there gambling. The video games are already in the taverns. To gamble at a new casino one might require the ability to get there. To use your credit card to purchase lottery tickets online requires nothing more than a computer. You don’t even need to get dressed. So which one is most likely to be abused? And if they allow online card gambling?

    Let’s just be rational here and pass the gaming bill. Let’s shortstop those that are going to Wisconsin and Indiana to spend their money and get them to spend it here.

  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 1:28 pm:

    So, they new you had the inside scoop on the meeting but somehow thought you wouldn’t find out about a secret investigation to identify the leak?

    Learned nothing from HP.

    I have some sympathy for Quinn here. Negotiating in the media rarely produces good results. But neither do attempts to stifle the press’s inquisitive mind; it just makes them dig deeper.

    My advice: Remind, and stress, to those at the negotiating table that press leaks undermine efforts to find a solution and are in no one’s best interests…unless of course they prefer the status quo, in which case they are at the wrong table.

  9. - Peaches - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 1:43 pm:

    The jobs this bill would save and create cannot be taken lightly at this moment in time. Slots at the track would be fabulous for horse racing and the yearly revenue raised for the state of IL would be felt. Pass this bill for a financial shot in the arm!!

  10. - iPost - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 2:05 pm:

    What about iGaming? Cullerton just floated it the other day. That’ll make more money than the boats, tracks and video gaming combined.

  11. - illinois resident - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 2:29 pm:

    it seems like the majority of Illinois residents are for an expansion of gambling. The state also desperately needs the money and the jobs it will create. What is the hold up?

  12. - Because I say so... - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 2:43 pm:

    Get over it already Governor! The citizens of Illinois want slots at the tracks so get time to move on. This bill would create/save jobs in Illinois. Isn’t what that you want?

  13. - Ack Ack - Friday, May 18, 12 @ 5:59 pm:

    Let’s think of the big picture here and not the quick fix. Slots are not the cure all, but people that want to play against the house with the hard earned money that they make have the right to throw it away in whatever matter they wish, so if they want slots give them slots.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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