Gov. Pat Quinn used his red pen today to veto a major gambling expansion bill, but supporters of the legislation say they're not ready to throw in the cards just yet.
Since taking office last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been cheerleading for a casino for Chicago--which was part of the bill Quinn vetoed.
The mayor argued the casino would bring in $140 million in revenue, create 15,000 to 20,000 construction jobs, as well as provide money for public infrastructure and neighborhood schools. He also has claimed that the city loses $20 million a month and several jobs to casinos in Indiana.
“It is the responsibility of the governor and all leaders in Illinois to stop this outflow of dollars and jobs,” Emanuel said today in a statement. “I spoke with the governor this morning and we agreed, it cannot take another 20 years of discussion to draft and pass a bill that will be signed into law. I will continue to work relentlessly with all parties to pass a bill that will allow a Chicago casino to be built and implemented responsibly."
The Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance, a coalition with interests in expanding state gambling, said the state missed an opportunity to add jobs and generate new revenue.
“Despite efforts that would have satisfied the governor's call for tighter restrictions and additional oversight, fiscal relief for the state has now been further delayed,” the coalition’s statement read. “Our leaders in Springfield are committed to getting us back onto steady financial footing and providing more economic opportunity to Illinois residents. We're confident that they will do what is necessary so the state can benefit from sorely needed jobs and revenue."
But John Kindt, a professor at the University of Illinois and an expert on the economic impacts of gambling, doesn't buy the arguments that increased gambling would result in either job creation or increased revenue.
Kindt argues that expanding casinos are a job killer, because most of the house's money is made from slot machines. Each slot machine, he said, takes away about $100,000 from consumer spending, which hurts the state's economy and, subsequently, job creation.
"Each slot machine takes away from spending on refrigerators, cars, computers and more importantly, food and clothing--the necessities of life," Kindt said.
Quinn adamantly opposed adding more slot machines, particularly at race tracks, which was also part of the bill. The governor was also concerned that the legislation did not prohibit campaign contributions from the gaming industry, and that the law would not have provided ample revenue for eduction.
In a July editorial, Kindt supported some of Quinn's concerns about expanding gambling, but went so far as to say gambling should be phased out.
Lawmakers who supported the bill said it would bring the cash-strapped state's budget much-needed revenue.
The General Assembly now has to muster a three-fifths majority in each chamber during the fall veto session if it wishes to override Quinn's veto--not an easy task.