* From the governor’s budget address…
For example, any enhancement that we enact to gaming revenues this year should be dedicated to education, which could include teachers’ pensions.
Of course, gaming expansion has to be done right. It must have tough ethical standards, a campaign contribution ban on casino operators, and no loopholes for mobsters.
That last line about “no loopholes for mobsters” was followed by several seconds of laughter, even when Quinn tried to move on to another topic. Have a listen…
* This isn’t the first time Quinn has used that line, but apparently many legislators hadn’t heard it before, judging by their reaction. From July 31st of last year…
On Tuesday, he told WBEZ’s Steve Edwards on The Afternoon Shift that politicians should avoid campaign contributions from the gaming industry.
“We’re not gonna have any loopholes for mobsters, no way,” Quinn said. “We gotta make sure things are airtight when it comes to integrity on gambling period.”
Apparently, mobster gamblers like to write checks to campaign funds.
* Moving right along…
Quinn’s earlier veto messages cited a lack of oversight for new gaming operations, particularly a Chicago casino, and a desire to earmark the resulting new revenue for education. The governor early in his term also objected to adding slots at tracks but more recently seems to have accepted that as a necessary part of any compromise over gaming expansion.
Keeping the issue fresh, a Senate committee met shortly after Quinn’s speech and approved a measure that—like the two Quinn has vetoed—would authorize slot machines for Illinois race tracks, a new land-based casino in downtown Chicago and four other new casinos at strategic sites around the state.
Supporters said they believe legislation can be crafted to meet the governor’s ethical and educational goals.
The profits generated from the expansion would be allocated to education. That’s an idea Gov. Pat Quinn hinted he’d support during Wednesday’s budget speech. Quinn recently vetoed two gambling expansions, calling for more ethical protections.
The internet profits would be split with some going toward the state’s public pension systems.
The proposal authorizes slot machines at Midway and O’Hare international airports.
The bill is SB1739.
A mere year from now, Quinn faces a potentially tough primary challenge, and resolving the intractable, budget-gobbling pension issue, even if it involved a gambling deal, could be a good line on his leadership resume.
Rep. Lou Lang, the Skokie Democrat pushing gambling expansion, said he was “not opposed” to dedicating some new gambling revenue to teacher pensions. But, Lang said, the state has “lots of needs” and could use that money to pay for construction projects, overdue bills or education.
Supporters said the proposal could generate as much as $400 million a year for education, though Quinn has previously opposed slots at tracks and airports. The bill also would create a new regulatory body to oversee Internet-based gambling, with the hope of generating at least $50 million a year that could be put into the pension system. Gambling interests would be banned from making campaign contributions and a gambling inspector general would be added under a bill sponsored by Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan. […]
“I believe that a gaming plan that is structured to address the ethical and regulatory concerns of Gov. Quinn can be part of a new revenue mix,” Cullerton said.
* Meanwhile, video gaming naysayers who pointed to the large number of communities opting out of the law are probably scratching their heads now that towns are starting to realize they’re missing out on serious money…
Following a trend throughout the Chicago suburbs, Elgin officials have taken steps toward reversing the city’s ban on video gambling.
The Elgin City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to allow taverns and other eligible liquor license holders to have video poker machines, reversing a 1981 ban. Officials must approve the measure once more at a meeting in two weeks before it is final.
As recently as last summer, City Council members were largely against the practice. But the growing presence of video gambling in neighboring towns’ businesses prompted them to change their minds. […]
Elgin isn’t the first to have a change of heart. Nearly 50 local governing bodies had changed their minds as of last month, including Aurora, a fellow Kane County city that also hosts a casino. A Tribune analysis found that trend extends beyond the metro area with cities including DeKalb, Carbondale and Moline reversing bans.