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Like deja vu all over again

Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

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.

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        

  1. - dog days - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 8:23 am:

    video poker parlors are saturating the market and watering down the argument for new brink and mortor casinos and slots at tracks. The new gaming bill should address this issue. Perhaps prohibit parlors that operate for the sole purpose of having games that target women.

  2. - dog days - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 8:24 am:


  3. - Nieva - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 8:24 am:

    Sorry I meant a Hucks in Eldorado.

  4. - A guy... - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    Rita’s running in the right lane now with the notion of revenue sharing from a larger, more profitable casino in Chicago. This tired old theory of casinos helping revitalize communities has been proven wrong. There are some jobs created, but the areas around these “destination casinos” are not improving.
    It’s going to take Chicago and Suburban legislators to muscle this one through. Give the racetrack it’s positions, heck, nearly everyone there is already gambling anyway.
    We don’t need 6 more casinos just to justify the one that could truly raise revenue from tourists, conventioneers and out of the area folks. I can’t for the life of me figure out why legislators want a State Regulated Gambling facility in districts that are not real tourist areas or large convention areas.

  5. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 9:57 am:

    Go to Joliet.
    Go to Harrah’s.
    Spend a weekend there.
    Walk around downtown Joliet.
    Then drive around it.

    After you’ve done that, you will better realize just how poorly legalized gambling revitalizes a local economy.

    It just flat-out doesn’t.

    So don’t get your hopes up on a Chicago casino creating anything greater than what we currently see in Montreal. It will satisfy politicians because they end up with more loot to play with and satisfy casino owners as they expand their business - but for the rest of us, legalized gambling is like a face lift on a 90 year old actress - it only looks OK from miles away.

  6. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 10:18 am:

    Yeah, I’m sure Emanuel is struggling mightily to hold his tongue until he sees if he gets his pension bill.

  7. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    VM - though I’m no fan of legalized gambling and think there’s only so many times the state can go to the gambling well before it runs dry, I’m tired of seeing vans filled with tourists heading from downtown Chicago to Indiana. One day though the feds are going to legalize internet gaming and then these casino revenues are going to plummet.

  8. - Roamin' Numeral - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 10:25 am:

    States that have slots and/or other forms of gambling at their racetracks: Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Maine, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Can Illinois please join the party?

    By the way, the Illinois Derby is this Saturday. The 4-5 morning line favorite is Midnight Hawk, who is part owned by Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville. Go Midnight Hawk and Coach Q!

  9. - A guy... - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    We always hear about Illinois ain’t Indiana or Wisconsin. True enough. Chicago ain’t Vegas. It’s not even Atlantic City or Biloxi for that matter. Just about anywhere but Vegas, legalized gambling is nothing but diminishing returns. It only works there because it’s all they do. They keep blowing up old casinos and building new ones to keep it fresh for a limited crowd that needs a whole damn country (and int’l visitors) to keep it viable. No other city will go “all in” like Vegas. VM hit the nail on the head. Casinos don’t revitalize anything. At best they’re an entertainment option that are more costly than a local Multiplex theatre.

  10. - Mittuns - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Slots everywhere except Fairmount Park, absolutely ridiculous. If this bill passes, that will be the final nail in the coffin. Now Arlington just needs to force out Hawthorne to monopolize the industry.

  11. - RNUG - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    In my view, it’s real simple. The pols want the “new” casino money in a pile they can spend on vote getting stuff; they don’t want to have to use the new revenue to pay the pension debt. So until they have (temporarily) “fixed” the pensions, they don’t want any new money to appear on the table (pun intended).

  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Apr 17, 14 @ 7:52 pm:


    Facelift: best line I have read in awhile.

    Perhaps you have not heard about how the casino has revived East St Louis?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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