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Expand it or kill it?

Wednesday, Aug 29, 2012

* Two opposing views on gaming expansion. First up, Chuck Sweeny of the Rockford Register-Star

Government doesn’t tell us what kind of movies we can see, where we can go out to eat, or what kind of band or orchestra music we can hear. It doesn’t say which communities can have bowling alleys and which can’t.

All these things are forms of entertainment, as is gambling. It should be the people’s choice. The current gambling laws are arbitrary. For instance, the state runs a lottery business that wastes Illinoisans’ time at gas station/convenience stores. Did you ever stand in line for 10 minutes to pay for gas, behind three people buying a combined total of 110 lottery tickets?

The state allows “charitable” bingo games and “charitable” casino nights. It allows 10 casinos to operate. It allows betting at horse racing tracks.

And now, the state is allowing bars, fraternal clubs and veterans’ groups to have legal gambling machines. (Many bars and clubs have gambling machines now, but any payoffs are made under the table.)

Why not just let the market decide how much and what kind of gambling Illinois should have? The market is efficient at sorting these things out. For instance, as Best Buy fumbles, but along comes h.h. gregg to take up the slack. K-mart slows, but Walmart grows. No politicians decided these things; shoppers did.

* Next, John Kass at the Tribune

“When government put casinos in to raise revenue, they’re betting on their people to lose. When a government bets on you to lose, what does that say about the government?”

Whom do you agree with and why?

* Meanwhile, subscribers already have my take on this

Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a major gambling expansion Tuesday, setting up a post-election session in which new casinos could be tied to reforms of the state’s out-of-whack government worker retirement system.

Buried deep in his veto message to lawmakers, the Democratic governor said legislators should shift their focus from slot machines to what he called “the most pressing issue of our time” — pension reform.

“Illinois cannot gamble its way out of our fiscal challenges,” Quinn wrote. “Even a casino on every street corner cannot repair the state’s $83 billion unfunded pension liability.”

For Quinn, a long-in-the-works gambling expansion provides potential leverage when the General Assembly returns to the Capitol at the end of November. If enough lawmakers want casinos and the promise of hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, Quinn could try to strike a deal in exchange for comprehensive cost-cutting to the state’s struggling pension systems.

* And this

At least some horse racing officials are optimistic. In the past, Quinn has opposed slot machines at racetracks and indicated he’s not willing to compromise on it. That didn’t come up in his veto message Tuesday, and Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association President Michael Campbell doesn’t think the machines are off the table.

“The horsemen are grateful to the governor that he did not mention slots at tracks as something he finds objectionable in the gaming bill and that he has signaled he is comfortable with additional gaming at the tracks to help our industry,” Campbell said in a statement. “Based on private conversations that we have had with him, we believe that is the case.”

* And this

And Mayor Emanuel, you need to do more than lead cheers for a losing team. You need a new path to a Chicago casino.

* Quote of the week goes to Lou

[Quinn] said that the newer bill did not have strong enough ethical standards. “The most glaring deficiency of Senate Bill 1849 is the absence of strict ethical standards and comprehensive regulatory oversight. Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters,” he wrote.

“We don’t have any corruption in Illinois gaming. Where is his evidence that there is any mafia in Illinois gaming today? There isn’t any,” Lang said.

Ummm. Okay.

* And this is just plain silly talk

After the veto was announced, Mayor Emanuel expressed frustration about Quinn’s decision and vowed to keep fighting for a Chicago casino. And Rahm’s not alone; other officials are upset with Quinn’s decision, citing the revenue the bill would have generated for the state.

Still, the main event here is the pair of Democratic leaders going head-to-head. It could set the stage for a gubernatorial run by Rahm in 2014, something that has in no way been hinted at yet, but isn’t out of the question.

Rahm ain’t running for governor.

* Related…

* Reaction to gambling veto: ‘The south suburbs get the shaft again’: Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, acknowledged: “Indiana certainly dodged a bullet on its western border.”

* Lawmakers react to Quinn’s casino veto: “A press release sent to them two minutes before you’re going to the media and that the media already had this. I think those are the kind of things that just infuriate the people that work in Springfield,” Link said.

* Gov. Quinn vetoes casino bill; opponents vow override

* Quinn vetoes gambling expansion bill

* Our view: Quinn’s veto right move

* Danville mayor: ‘Frustrated, disappointed, but not surprised’

* VIDEO: Lou Lang: Gov. Pat Quinn’s Illinois Gaming Bill Veto is a “Big Disappointment”

- Posted by Rich Miller        


37 Comments
  1. - langhorne - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    i heard lou on wls yesterday explaining his frustration w Q over the ethics. he said he offered to put whatever ethics provisions wanted in the bill and got no response. he also glossed over the size of the expansion–just five new casinos–not mentioning the number of new gaming positions. and making no reference whatsoever to video poker.

    no problems w ethics in our gaming? then why isnt there a casino in rosemont?


  2. - Cincinnatus - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 10:52 am:

    Quinn’s proposal may even get mild support from the gaming industry because when the limits on contributions gets challenged it will lose. I think that it will be a hard sell, constitutionally, to limit speech on one particular industry at the expense of other industries.


  3. - langhorne - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 10:53 am:

    “”whatever ethics provision Quinn wanted in the bill”"


  4. - highspeed - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 10:58 am:

    Heard Lou Lang this morning say that he spoke with Quinn and offered to put whatever Quinn needed and got no response. He further stated that the oversight is the same in this bill as is in the existing gaming law. So Gov. Quinn if what Lang says is true what is your real reason for vetoing?


  5. - Earnest - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:00 am:

    I agree with Sweeney. Government shouldn’t be picking the winners and losers in an industry by limiting competition. I do see Kass’ point that “because we need money” is a distasteful motivation.

    I don’t think the extra state revenue should be earmarked for education or anything locked-in at all, except for assuring a base level of gambling addition and financial counseling services are available.


  6. - jake - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:08 am:

    I don’t agree completely with either one. For most people who gamble, it is a form of entertainment. But a significant minority are problem gamblers, whose problem affects not only them but others close to them, friends, family members, and people with whom they do business and interact at work. On the other side of the coin, our society is so saturated with gambling opportunities that the increased opportunities represented by the bill probably will not increase the incidence of problem gambling in Illinois. So I think expanding gambling is probably OK, with the appropriate safeguards against corrupting the licensing process and oversight. Essentially it would replace gambling from which the state does not get a cut (online gambling, for instance) with gambling from which the state does get a cut. If you made me a benevolent dictator, I would have the state operate all the legal gambling enterprise, have individuals gamble with a state-issued debit card keyed to the individual’s tax id, and would shut the card off when the individual’s net losses had exceeded a certain portion of that person’s income. But that will never happen in the foreseeable future.


  7. - Coach59 - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    I like to see some courage and backbone from the Senate and Representatives of both parties, just stand up to Gov. Quinn and override his veto and show him who is in charge of this state!

    I think they are just gutless and scared of the Governor and his power. It would be refreshing to see both parties work for once and pull it off with an override! I am beginning to see a resemblance of the legislature in this state with Congress, they just can do anything but accept their check! I sure hope they surprise me! Lets override this veto and bring in some jobs to this state; save the jobs we do have for once; and bring in badly needed revenue for this state!


  8. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:17 am:

    ===I think they are just gutless and scared of the Governor and his power.===

    Um, new around here?


  9. - reformer - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:27 am:

    I agree with Kass. The state uses gambling law to give itself a monopoly, while criminalizing penny ante poker in a senior club.

    It’s obvious the state no longer considers gambling to be inherently immoral. So what’s the justification for criminalizing all gambling except when the state licenses it? The obvious one is to produce revenue.

    So long as it’s a crime under state law to bet in a sports pool, that indicates state officials see gambling as a revenue source.


  10. - Chicago Democrat 2 - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:29 am:

    Check Quinn’s recent contributions. Everyone was concerned about Madigan’s recent contributions, what has the Governor received recently….


  11. - Anyone Remember? - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:38 am:

    With all due respect to Rep Lang …

    Mob and Rosemont Casino -
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2005-07-19/news/0507190223_1_illinois-gaming-board-rosemont-mob

    Organized crime and video gambling -
    http://www.justice.gov/usao/iln/hot/familySecrets.html

    Sports betting and loans to gamblers -
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-26-chicago_N.htm


  12. - Brendan - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    Chuck Sweeny’s argument is flaccid.

    “The Government” can and does regulate what movies you watch (it’s called the Miller Test, defining community standards for obscenity and applies to public sale & performances); where you can go out to eat (zoning laws and other municipal ordinances regulate the number and kind of restaurants in an area); and whether your community can have a bowling alley (ditto to zoning & ordinances).

    What I’m sure he meant to say was that “The Government” can’t tell you what to eat, what to watch in the privacy of your home, what music to listen to or games to play.

    What’s the difference? Commerce.

    It is the proper role and function of “The Government” to regulate commerce. And casinos are businesses subject to such regulation.

    Therefore, yes, Chuck, “The Government” should be telling you whether you can have a casino in your community. However, if you want to play poker in your basement rec room with your friends and neighbors, knock yourself out!


  13. - Robert the Bruce (formerly just Robert) - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:51 am:

    I agree with Sweeny, though his analogy is somewhat faulty. While shopping can be an addiction, gambling is more addictive. Alcohol or cigarettes are a better analogy, as they can be terribly addictive, and yet the places where one can find alcohol or cigarettes aren’t as restricted by the state.


  14. - whetstone - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 11:59 am:

    I tend to agree with Sweeney; he’s being a bit lazy with the regulation argument, but he’s right to point out that the state runs a massive gambling operation.

    Kass has a point, if odd coming from someone who’s instinctually opposed to government regulation, but I personally find casino gambling less depressing than video and lottery gambling. This may be too fine a point, but at least card-playing is a game, whereas buying lottery tickets is just lining up to get your money taken.


  15. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:01 pm:

    I agree with both columnists — and I think it’s perfectly logical to agree with both. I lean toward Sweeny’s argument… at the same time, the motivation from the state to allow or disallow should not be based on revenue.

    Also… Rich and Anyone Remember…. I’m not saying there is no mob influence in some gambling operations in the U.S. (and the world), but is there real strong evidence that the mob controls existing gambling operations in Illinois? If Quinn says the mob controls gambling as he did… is he not then admitting that our current casinos in Illinois are mob controlled? Why isn’t he cracking down on that then?


  16. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:12 pm:

    Agree with Kass. (Ouch, that hurt to say.)


  17. - Lou Lang - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:13 pm:

    With all due respect to “Anyone Remember”, I did not say that there was no mob. Nor did I say that they had not been involved in video gaming. I said that the Illinois Gaming Board has done a superb job keeping organized crime out of Illinois CASINOS. The story cited on Rosemont actually PROVES the point. The bill gives the Gaming Board an additional $50 MILLION a year to make sure we have the safe and corruption-free Illinois Casinos.


  18. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:14 pm:

    I don’t like gambling. But the economic problem now is that the family friendly states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana see gaming as a state-run business and run it to maximize profits, all the while banking on the continued handwringing in Illinois.
    If John Kass and Pat Quinn can talk all the other states out of legalized gambling, then by all means, let’s shut down the casinos.
    But we’re way past that debate. Illinois needs to decide whether it’s going to be competitive in this marketplace or content to not be competitive and let other states take advantage of our marketplace.


  19. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:21 pm:

    As a wanna-be politician, let me just say I agree with Sweeney and Kass


  20. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    Yes, gaming (save poker) is a terrible regressive tax on the poor (which the government could correct if it “localized” the revenues so that tickets bought in poor neighborhoods were spent there, with downtown going to a general pot). But here we know that much of this gambling will take place anyway, either 1) in the current IL casinos, 2) in the border states, 3) illegally in-state or 4) online. So might as well get the revenue.

    If Lou Lang told me the sun rose in the East, I’d suspect something collided with the earth and reversed the rotation.


  21. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:22 pm:

    I was also troubled by Quinn’s desire to prohibit political contributions from casinos. I find that to a very chilling proposal. Casinos are an easy target to pick-on for those purposes… but who is next? A ban on contributions from Chick-fil-A? A ban on contributions from developers? A ban on contributions from gun store owners? A ban on contributions from unions?


  22. - Belle - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:24 pm:

    I believe Lotto is considered gambling. Way back when—we were told the money the state garnered from the Lotto would go to Education. In retrospect, that seems to be a joke.
    I don’t care about gambling but recognize that lots of people do enjoy it. If only we knew what they would really do with the money that would be collected? I don’t believe they would pay bills and cover the pensions.


  23. - olddog - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:30 pm:

    I never thought I’d have to say this, but for once I have to agree with Kass. That stuff in the Register-Star sounds like yet another free-market fantasy.


  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:33 pm:

    ===Way back when—we were told the money the state garnered from the Lotto would go to Education===

    Actually, it started out as a funding source for mass transit.


  25. - Anyone Remember? - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:38 pm:

    My point, which I did not make due to brevity, is that the money that comes with gambling attracts organized crime, and in Illinois history has shown we haven’t always dealt with it well. (For the record, I don’t gamble, and don’t care if others do or don’t. Just keep the descendants of Al Capone away from it, including “juice loans” … .)

    Video gambling corruption isn’t just Chicago, either. In the Metro East, Thomas Venezia ran an empire so vast by the time the Feds took him down, his attorney Amiel Cueto was convicted of obstruction of justice, imprisoned, and disbarred, and Congressman Jerry Costello was named an un-indicted co-conspirator.
    http://www.riverfronttimes.com/2005-11-30/feature/win-lose-die/

    A constant on these pages recently is the opinion the Gaming Board isn’t up to speed on video gambling. IF true, how would they organizational handle an increase in gambling. What do others think?


  26. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:40 pm:

    Rich, next you’ll be defending Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.


  27. - just a reader - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 12:49 pm:

    @Lou Lang

    With all due respect, it looks like the Gaming Board itself disagrees with you.

    http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local/illinois&id=8788556

    “We’re tremendously overloaded. We’d have to more than double our staff,” said Jaffe… “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.”


  28. - The Fox - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 1:12 pm:

    Gambling for entertainment is great. Gambling aimed at ripping off the poor to assure the well off they will not be taxed to share the burden is no way to fund government.


  29. - Emily Booth - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    I think it would be nice if an elegant downtown hotel had a small casino. Other than this, we already have the lotto, the boats and horse-racing. I don’t gamble. I think it’s a waste of money but I know people who enjoy it as a touristy kind of thing.


  30. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 1:29 pm:

    At this point, I think gambling licenses should be like liquor licenses — still regulated, but not impossible to get. Let the market run.

    Now, government is picking some big winners.

    The current license-holders, including those in Indiana and Wisconsin, are winners.

    Rivers in Des Plaines is a big winner.

    The Outfit guys raking from the video poker games are still winning.


  31. - Lou Lang - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 1:31 pm:

    To “just a reader”:

    The bill gives the Gaming Board $50 MILLION off the top to do its work. No problem with resources.


  32. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 2:09 pm:

    I agree with Jake @ 11:08 am.

    And FTR, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was innocent.


  33. - Robert the Bruce (formerly just Robert) - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 2:44 pm:

    ==The bill gives the Gaming Board $50 MILLION off the top to do its work. No problem with resources.==
    Wow, that should indeed be plenty of resources; we’re just talking about a handful of extra casinos plus video poker to regulate.

    I wish gaming expansion would be linked to balancing the budget/avoiding deeper budget cuts next year, rather than linked to “hey, we’ve got more money to spend on education!”


  34. - D.P. Gumby - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 4:00 pm:

    If they would only expend as much effort trying to address the pension as they do trying to expand gambling perhaps we wouldn’t need the gambling. But if we also legalize/regulate pot and prostitution along w/ gambling we might solve the whole thing (as long as the prostitution industry doesn’t have a state pension plan).


  35. - Chris - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 4:29 pm:

    “Rahm ain’t running for governor.”

    Why has this become popular?

    Also, why does anyone think that he’s gonna run for POTUS? Vet of a foreign army? Really?


  36. - reformer - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 4:33 pm:

    == I did not say that there was no mob. Nor did I say that they had not been involved in video gaming. ==

    When Lou ran the video poker bill, he did ridicule the notion that there was any mob connection with video poker. I was paying attention to the floor debate when that topic came up.


  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Aug 29, 12 @ 5:21 pm:

    @Cheryl44 -

    I know Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was innocent, you know Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was innocent, but ask anyone on the street who started the Chicago Fire, and what answer do you get?

    It’s the same with the Lottery, pension mess, McDonald’s coffee.

    Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes common knowledge.

    Like “common sense”.

    If either “common knowledge” or “common sense” were actually “common,” we’d just call them “knowledge” and “sense.”

    YDD


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        * Poll: Quinn, Rauner In 'Statistical Dead Heat'
        * Karen Lewis, president of the CTU, talks about her possible mayoral bid Monday night on the Southwest Side
        * Karen Lewis, president of the CTU, speaks at a public forum Monday night on the Southwest Side
        * New Rauner ad takes aim at Quinn prisoner release program [video]
        * Oberweis on Fox News [video]
        * Plantation politics a topic of discussion on both sides of the aisle
        * Poll: Republican Bost take 4 point lead over Dem Congressman Enyart
        * Reeder: Cronyism comes in all stripes
        * Rep. Brown's 93 year old farming grandfather continues to harvest


        * The Economic Empowerment Forum Endorses Rauner for Governor
        * State Director on Aging Says September Observances Stress the Importance of Healthy Aging - September is Healthy Aging Month; September 23 is Falls Prevention Day
        * Governor Quinn Breaks Ground on First Veterans Home in Chicago - New Facility Will Care for 200 of the Nation’s Heroes
        * Quinn still refusing to fire 20 political cronies
        * Illinois Chamber of Commerce Endorses Rauner for Governor




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