Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Differ in Casino Expansion Views
A land-based casino expansion debate that has been raging in the state of Illinois for several years is sweeping in the four candidates looking to challenge the state’s incumbent governor, Democrat Pat Quinn, in the upcoming November gubernatorial race.
Though the Daily Herald is reporting that at least two brick and mortar casinos in the Land of Lincoln, the Grand Victoria Casino in the city of Elgin and the Hollywood Casino located in Aurora, are experiencing declines in revenue, there are ardent supporters in the legislature of adding more casinos in Illinois.
Casino issue likely to be a hot-button topic in 2014
Because the issue of allowing more casinos to be built in the state is one that has come to the forefront now that Illinois has legislatively dealt with its public employee pension crisis, the paper surveyed the four Republican candidates who would like to replace Governor Quinn as to their attitudes on the matter.
The Daily Herald found that the candidates hold mixed opinions on whether cash strapped Illinois would be well served to add additional casinos.
Last year, a casino expansion bill that would have permitted the development of five new brick and mortar casinos in and around the Chicagoland area failed to make it to a vote and died at the end of the spring legislative term. Supporters of that legislation have vowed to bring it back, despite the fact that Governor Quinn has always said that he is unwilling to support a gambling measure that he doesn’t feel is in the best interest of the people of the state of Illinois.
The previous gambling expansion legislation also would have cleared the way for the installation of slot machines in Chicago’s two major airports, O’Hare and Midway, as well as in various horse racing tracks around the state.
Candidates opinions divided ahead of primary election
While it would appear that of the four candidates, Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard is the most enthusiastic about allowing more casinos in the state, the candidates seem to agree that oversight is key to the process.
Of the five new casinos, one has been suggested for a downtown Chicago location.
In the past, it had been proposed that the Chicago casino operate with separate oversight than the other properties in the state, a move favored by Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, himself a vocal casino advocate, who particularly favors the Chicago casino project. Emanuel has said in the past that revenue generated by a casino in the city’s downtown core would be used to help the city’s ailing public school system.
For the most part, the four candidates are not strongly opposed to some gambling expansion, but none of the candidates favor the entire package that is being put forth now.
“I don’t gamble. I don’t like gambling. I believe casinos and gambling is here. We should allow our local governments to decide for themselves,” remarked candidate Bruce Rauner, a businessman who hails from the tony north Chicago suburb of Winnetka, without entirely answering the question of whether or not he supports casino expansion.
Answering more candidly, Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard said, “I also support slot machines at race tracks since they help the racing industry and Illinois agriculture.”
Whoever is elected to the governor’s mansion in the fall election will likely have a large say as to whether or not those new casinos are ultimately built. It bears noting that Governor Quinn has twice in the past vetoed bills that would have increased the number of land-based casinos in the state of Illinois.
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