Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)
* Remember the old “I was put on this Earth to fix pensions” days? Whacky fun, right?
Before the state pension bill passed, Gov. Quinn frequently deferred to comment on other issues because it wouldn’t be right to address anything but pension reform. Of course now that there is (at least momentarily) a pension bill in the books, the Governor can’t use that as cover anymore. And sure enough, gaming expansion proponents are back at it. A hearing was held yesterday to discuss the latest amendments to the proposal…
The newest version separates plans for a Chicago casino with up to 10,000 betting positions from a broader package that would add a total of five new casinos across the state and allow slot machines at horse tracks. The shift in strategy is aimed at blunting arguments that the gambling market outside the city is already saturated with existing casinos and video gambling machines at neighborhood bars.
However, peeling a Chicago casino out of a larger gambling package presents its own problems as Downstate and suburban lawmakers may be less inclined to vote in favor unless they get a piece of the gambling pie. But sponsoring Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, said a new provision that would split revenue from a Chicago casino evenly between the city and state should help win support of legislators and the governor, who has vetoed two previous expansion bills.
Crain’s Chicago noted that Governor Pat Quinn might be more amenable to this plan than he has been to previous proposals that involved building casinos throughout the state. However, as both Crain’s and the AP described, putting a single, large casino in Chicago will almost certainly face long odds in the General Assembly; downstate representatives have already objected on the grounds that the primary purpose of a casino bill ought to be revitalizing economies around the state with construction and permanent jobs.
In fact, and as you will recall from last week in one of Rich’s posts, the Governor has lightened up on a Chicago casino. But get this…
Why is one of the most vocal proponents of a Chicago casino recycling lines from one of its biggest opponents?
One theory is the Mayor does not want to upset the Governor while the city’s pension bill is still on his desk.
In the meantime, though…
After years of pushing for slots machines at racetracks, some horse racing advocates are worried the smaller number proposed in a new plan won’t generate enough money.
The current plan would allow for 600 slot machines at Arlington International Racecourse, half the 1,200 called for in previous plans that were vetoed by Gov. Pat Quinn.
“All right, we’ll exist. Horse racing will exist with (600) machines. But we will not flourish. We will not flourish like other states,” said Bob Molaro, an industry lobbyist.