Is a casino coming to Chicago?
If you want one on the shores of Lake Michigan, then contact Governor Quinn. Because the keys to a lakefront casino are in his hands.
The Illinois House and Senate passed a bill that now sits on Governor Quinn's desk that would allow a casino to be built in Chicago. Sites for a potential casino being considered include Trump Tower and McCormick Place.
The bill that narrowly passed the senate yesterday (30-27, with two voting present) authorizes building five new casinos to be located in Chicago, the south suburbs, north suburban Park City, Rockford, and Danville. "This is gonna be jobs," said Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), the bill's senate sponsor. "It's gonna be helping to be paying off the bills in the state of Illinois. It's gonna be an economic boon for the state of Illinois. We need it," Senator Link continued.
The bill also allows for slot machines at racetracks and within the secure areas in O'Hare and Midway airports. Gambling positions- or areas where a single person may make a wager (a slot machine is one position)- would increase form the current level at 12,000 positions, to 40,000.
This is a big victory for Mayor Emanuel- who has spent many hours on the telephone with lawmakers in Springfield trying to get the legislation passed. "I worked hard even pre yesterday's vote in the House on finding an agreement so that we can advance Chicago's economic interest as it relates to gaming," Emanuel said. Mayor Emanuel has long endorsed a casino in Chicago. He said bringing a casino to Chicago would "help energize the Chicago economy" bringing between 7,000 and 10,000 new jobs to the city of Chicago.
Other senators noted that Chicago casinos already exist- albeit in Indiana. So rather than allow tax dollars go to Indiana, many senators decided that to allow a casino in Chicago would allow millions in tax revenue to remain in the city and the state.
"We can't continue to borrow to pay for spending we can't afford. This is a way to take pressure off taxes," said Senator Matt Murphy of Palatine.
As with other bills to cross his desk, we do not know whether Governor Quinn will sign the legislation, as he has not expressed his opinions on increased gaming in the state. However, rather than vetoing the entire bill, Governor Quinn may elect to use an amendatory veto- giving him the ability to change portions of the bill.
Although the bill's passage surprised me- as gaming positions would increase significantly- I like it as a way to keep tax dollars in the state, rather than watching money go to Indiana and Michigan, where after less than an hour's drive from the city limits (and in some cases mere minutes) one can find a casino to gamble. I understand the argument against increased gaming in the city and in Illinois- that the addicted will have an easier time losing money they can't afford to lose- however, when the city and state is in such fiscal shambles, not allowing a casino in Chicago when they already exist in the Chicago area, just doesn't make much sense. I'm not sure you can legislate for the 1% of people that may abuse something to the detriment of everyone else- especially when that item already is available in Joliet, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and soon to become available in Des Plaines.
We'll see what Pat Quinn does with the bill. Governor Quinn may still be smarting from his legislative defeats in Springfield that he may veto this bill just for spite. Or perhaps he'll veto it to make a point to Mayor Emanuel, who championed the casino cause, that he's the most powerful democrat in the state. Although it sounds outlandish that a governor would veto a bill for spite or grandstanding, considering ousted Governor Rod Blagojevich is on the stand testifying about exactly that- who knows?