Quinn undecided on gambling bill amid criticism

Associated Press
Updated 8/3/2011 10:55 PM

Gov. Pat Quinn said Wednesday he hadn't made up his mind about a bill that would massively expand gambling in the state, as a watchdog group sharply criticized the measure and warned it would overwhelm state regulators.

Quinn said he was still meeting with proponents and opponents of the measure that would add five new casinos, including one in Chicago, increase gambling at the state's existing 10 casinos and add slot machines at racetracks in the state and at Chicago's airports.

"I think there's some strong critics of the bill that are on our schedule so we want to make sure everybody gets their voice heard," the Chicago Democrat said after an unrelated bill signing at an animal shelter.

His comments came as the Chicago Crime Commission said Quinn shouldn't sign the bill because it can't be properly regulated. Crime commission deputy director Jody Weis, the former Chicago police superintendent, warned in a statement that scandal and corruption were to be expected if the gambling expansion becomes law.

Commission executive vice president Art Bilek said the Illinois Gaming Board won't be able to keep up with the flood of new gambling.

"These regulatory shortcomings coupled with the almost unbelievable number of new gambling activities provided by the bill will enable the always ingenious and persistent crime syndicate to seek out schemes to enrich itself by getting into the state's legal gambling business," Bilek said in a statement.

Quinn hasn't officially received the bill yet.

Lawmakers passed the measure in May but Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has put a legislative hold on it. That's so lawmakers can work out a deal so the governor can sign it. Quinn has previously dismissed the idea of such a sizable expansion of gambling, although he has been willing to consider a Chicago casino, something Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants.