Quinn Opens The Door To Casino Expansion In Illinois

Governor Pat Quinn has repeatedly said he would not support broad casino expansion in Illinois, and exemplified that stance this week when he vetoed legislation to bring new casinos to the state. On WEdnesday, Quinn opened the door to a change of heart involving future gaming bills.

Quinn indicated that the budget restraints in Illinois have reached the point where further cuts are needed. The governor then threw a bone to gaming advocates, by claiming that new tax revenue generated from additional gaming options should go towards education and paying down the state’s pension debt.

“Any enhancement that we enact to gaming revenues this year should be dedicated to education, which could include teachers’ pensions,” said Quinn.

The speech came just hours after state Senator Terry Link unveiled the latest casino expansion plan, and unlike its predecessor, the new plan includes regulating online gambling. That is an area where Link believes billions of dollars in revenue can be generated.

Link believes that Quinn’s assertions about casino expansion is what lawmakers have been attempting to do with the new gaming bill.

“What he requested today is exactly what we’re doing,” said Link.

Illinois has been stuck in a tug of war between the governor and lawmakers over how far to go with casino expansion. The plan that was vetoed this week would have brought not only new casinos, but also slots to Chicago airports.

Link’s proposal does away with the slots at the airports, instead focusing on five new casinos. Arlington Park would receive 1,200 new slots under the plan, and Lake County would be guaranteed one of the new gaming facilities.

The inclusion of online gambling regulations comes on the heels of another state, New Jersey, regulating online casinos. Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have all now passed Internet gaming regulations, and at least a dozen other states are considering doing the same. Analysts believe that some form of online gambling will be regulated in most states within the next decade.

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