Gov. Pat Quinn said Tuesday that legislation to expand gambling in Illinois has "serious shortcomings" and the mayor of Chicago should be cautious about counting on money from a new casino as he makes budget plans.
"I don't think any person with common sense, looking at the legislation today, would say that it has sufficient protections for the public." Quinn said at a news conference. "It's great for gamblers and gaming interests, but it's not, in my opinion, strong enough when it comes to protecting the public."
The Democratic governor did not say he would reject the measure. He could use his veto power to suggest changes that would guard against corruption in the new casinos and slot machines.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he wants to use money from a new casino to pay for construction: building or renovating up to 25 schools, repaving roads, replacing 20 miles of el track each year, replacing leaky water mains and more. Emanuel told the Chicago Tribune that those projects could be more important to the city's economy than the casino alone.
"While the casino itself will create X (number of) jobs, the real job growth and economic growth will come from the investment," Emanuel said.
Discussing the benefits from gambling expansion could be seen as an attempt to increase pressure on Quinn to sign the legislation.
Quinn's response: Slow down.
"The notion that we're spending the money before the law is passed, I think, is putting the cart before the horse," Quinn said.
He noted that lawmakers have approved the measure but haven't officially sent it to his office. That means Quinn can't sign or veto the bill yet, a tactic meant to provide time for lobbying Quinn and negotiating possible changes to the measure.
The bill would allow five new casinos, including one in Chicago. It would also let existing casinos expand and racetracks add slot machines.