10/17/2011 2:28PM

Illinois governor says he will veto gaming bill

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CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn dealt the state’s racing industry a blow Monday, saying he would veto a gaming bill that would have allowed slot machines at the state’s racetracks, and proposing scaled-down gaming expansion eliminating the racetrack-casino component.

Quinn has sent generally negative signals about the gaming bill ever since it passed the state legislature in the spring, and because of a veto threat, the bill was held in the state Senate after its passage rather than being sent on to the governor to be signed or rejected. Quinn has met with interested parties in the intervening months but declined until Monday to outline the sort of legislation he would accept. The timing of his statement on the bill is linked to the upcoming start of the legislature’s fall veto session, where action on the gaming bill was expected.

Quinn proposed trimming the number of new casinos in the state from 14 to five, saying the amount of new gaming positions in the bill passed last spring would super-saturate an already stagnant gaming market in the region. His statement said that racetrack slots at Hawthorne and Arlington in the Chicago area would cannibalize existing casinos or new casinos that would be built if gaming expansion was permitted.

Quinn’s trimmed-down proposal, however, could run into problems in the legislature, and there figures to be much more political maneuvering in coming weeks. The bill that passed both branches of the state legislature in the spring was crafted to draw support from legislators throughout the state, and representatives from areas cut out of the casino action in Quinn’s vision might no longer support a gaming bill.