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Reaction to gambling veto: ‘The south suburbs get the shaft again’

Updated: September 30, 2012 6:25AM

Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to deep-six the Illinois gambling expansion bill was welcome news in Aurora, Elgin, Joliet and Northwest Indiana, where officials worried local casinos would be “cannibalized.”

But there was frustration in Chicago’s south suburbs, which were slated to get one of the five new casinos proposed in the now-vetoed bill.

“I’m disappointed to the extent we constantly see a long line of cars leaving Illinois and going to Indiana through the south suburbs,” state Rep. Will Davis (D-Hazel Crest) said. “The south suburbs get the shaft again.”

State Rep. Al Riley (D-Chicago Heights) said that “everybody is getting screwed,” with Quinn’s decision.

“The south suburbs have always been the red-headed stepchild,” state Rep. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) said. “Every time we have these fits and starts, the people 15 miles to the east of us [in Indiana] have to be laughing their butts off.”

Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, acknowledged: “Indiana certainly dodged a bullet on its western border.”

In Joliet, where two casinos are located, Mayor Tom Giarrante said Quinn made the right call.

“The bill was just a matter of cannibalizing the other casinos,” he said. “I don’t think there is that much new money out there. Five new casinos in Illinois would really hurt those of us that already have them.”

Tom Weisner, mayor of Aurora, which has a casino, was concerned about the section of the bill that would have allowed slot machines at racetracks.

“If that went through, that would create real problems for Aurora and other cities that have existing casinos,” Weisner said.

In Elgin, City Manager Sean Stegall noted the year-old Rivers Casino in Des Plaines already has eaten into the Grand Victoria Casino proceeds.

“An expansion to this degree would erode … it didn’t make sense because of the cannibalization factor,” he added.

Contributing: Janelle Walker, Cindy Wojdyla Cain, Stephanie Lulay

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