Quinn receives casino legislation, has 60 days to act

2012-07-02T21:45:00Z 2012-07-02T23:44:06Z Quinn receives casino legislation, has 60 days to actBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com

The fate of proposed casinos for Chicago and the south suburbs, and their potential to drain gamblers and local tax revenue away from Northwest Indiana, rests in the hands of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.

Senate Bill 1849 was officially presented to Quinn on Friday. The legislation calls for five new casinos throughout the state, allows the 10 existing Illinois casinos to expand and permits slot machines at horse racing tracks.

The Democratic governor has 60 days to sign the bill into law, veto it or make changes the Legislature must approve for the measure to become law. He also can do nothing and after 60 days it will become law without his signature.

Quinn has strongly hinted several times since the gaming legislation was narrowly approved by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on May 31 that he will reject the measure.

"I wouldn't hold your breath on getting that bill signed," Quinn said June 4.

The governor said he's concerned about ethical "loopholes" in the proposal that could hurt the state.

An estimated 70 percent of gamblers at Indiana casinos live in another state.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, has said he expects a Quinn veto will be followed this fall by the Legislature approving a revised plan to satisfy Quinn's ethical concerns. Cullerton refused to send Quinn a 2011 casino expansion plan after the governor suggested he would veto it.

A potential veto hasn't stopped south suburban communities from jockeying for the lead in the location race sure to follow if the casino proposal is signed into law. Calumet City, Lynwood and Ford Heights each are plotting potential casino sites.

The legislation permits a south suburban casino to be located in Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth township. It can have up to 1,600 gaming positions, about 20 percent less than the Ameristar Casino in East Chicago.

The Chicago casino is expected to be located downtown and can have up to 4,000 gaming positions, about 20 percent more than Hammond's Horseshoe Casino.  

Two new casinos across the state line likely would shrink the number of players and revenue at Northwest Indiana's five casinos, reducing funds from taxes on casino wagers and admissions that support state and local governments.

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