We applaud Gov. Pat Quinn for Tuesday’s veto of legislation that would have meant a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois.
Proposed as a way to raise revenue in a state mired in red ink, the legislation would have allowed five new casinos – a city-owned Chicago casino with spots for 4,000 people, and riverboat casinos in Danville, Park City, Rockford and Chicago’s south suburbs with 1,600 gambling positions each. It also would have allowed slot machines at the state’s horse racing tracks.
Combine this legislation with the video gaming legislation going into effect this year that will allow bars and restaurants in many communities to install up to six gambling machines each, and there would be a nearly limitless number of opportunities for residents to gamble away their hard-earned money.
As we’ve said in this space on previous occasions, additional gambling revenue is not the answer to Illinois’ fiscal problems. It only will create more addicts, bankrupt more families, and open the state up to more organized crime. Quinn emphasized this last point during his veto message Tuesday.
Missing from the bill are “strict ethical standards and comprehensive regulatory oversight,” Quinn said. “Illinois should never settle for a gaming bill that includes loopholes for mobsters.”
As for the new revenue that lawmakers were counting on, our message remains simple and clear: Fiscal discipline is what’s needed to fix Illinois’ budget problems, not more money that likely would be wasted.
Most McHenry County lawmakers were in the minority in opposing the bill. Only Rep. Kent Gaffney, R-Lake Barrington, supported it.
In the event of an attempt to override Quinn’s veto, our area lawmakers must stick to their principles and vote to uphold it.