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Quinn: Don’t hold your breath on Chicago casino bill

Updated: July 7, 2012 8:31AM

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Pat Quinn all but slammed the door Monday on signing gambling-expansion legislation that passed last week, saying it “contained a lot of loopholes that are not good for the people.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath on getting that bill signed,” the governor told reporters Monday morning during an appearance in Northbrook.

The measure that passed before a legislative deadline last Thursday would authorize a Chicago casino, along with four others in Lake County, the south suburbs and Downstate.

It also would permit slot machines at racetracks and expand the number of gambling positions at existing casinos.

In his comments Monday, the governor pointed back to his comments from late May when the House passed a slightly slimmed-down gambling bill from one the House and Senate passed last year but never sent him amid worries he’d veto it.

Quinn faulted the latest piece of legislation for lacking a ban on campaign contributions from gambling interests and competitive bidding requirements for new licenses. He also said it failed to provide enough time for the Illinois Gaming Board to make licensing decisions and didn’t provide enough oversight over a Chicago casino and, more broadly, over contracting for all new casinos.

“I’ve looked at the bill. And it has a lot of loopholes that are not good for the people when it comes to maintaining integrity and ethics in gambling and protecting the people of our state,” the governor said Monday. “It just has too many loopholes, and we’re not going to let any loopholes continue.”

Supporters in the Senate acknowledged late Thursday that their legislation didn’t contain every last detail that Quinn had originally sought — including the contribution ban — and said they would include all of those in newly introduced companion legislation, known as a trailer bill.

Told of Quinn’s comments Monday, the bills’ chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), said he didn’t believe the governor’s words represented a kiss of death for the gambling bill that passed.

“I sincerely believe if there is any type of differences, this trailer bill addressed those. I think between that and the bill that passed, where we addressed a tremendous amount of the governor’s earlier concerns, we are there,” Link said. “I look forward to working with the governor to make sure we have a bill that’s as ethically strong as you could get in the state of Illinois.”

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