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Illinois governor is not in favor of casino gaming at racetracks
Monday, October 17, 2011 - by John Pawlak, the U.S. Trotting Association

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Columbus, OH --- Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn spoke against casino gaming at the state’s racetracks and at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield in a statement to the press on Monday morning.

Quinn said he felt the people of the state didn’t want too many new gaming locations -- 14 were contained in the bill passed by the State Legislature this past June, including pari-mutuel racetracks and the Springfield Fairgrounds -- and that racing was already receiving “generous support from the state.”

He told the legislature to rewrite the bill to meet his concerns, which included a need to maintain integrity, avoid saturation of the gambling market and ensure gaming revenues flow through to Illinois schools.

Quinn noted that the racetracks and horsemen received $140 million this year and stood to gain perhaps $60 million more in 2012 -- all from casino subsidies.

“I just don’t feel we need to have seven more gaming locations in the state…just to save racing,” Quinn said.

The bill Quinn wants rewritten was passed in both houses of the legislature, but was not officially transmitted to the governor for his signature. During the past few months, Quinn said he studied the bill and talked to both opponents and proponents. In today’s statement he was essentially telling both houses what he favored and what he opposed in any new gaming legislation they might pass and send to him for his signature.

He made it clear in statements today that helping racing by granting casino or slot machine licenses to the state’s racetracks was not something he favored.

Quinn, however, is in favor of the state maintaining "appropriate support for horse racing and related businesses."

A press release issued today from the Governor's office (titled 'A Framework for Gaming in Illinois') states that "Horse racing and breeding have long been a part of Illinois culture and contribute to Illinois agribusiness. But giving every racetrack a casino and exponentially expanding casino gambling in the State is not the right way to provide support to this industry.

"In order to preserve the industry and to compete with other states, the Governor believes that horse racing should continue to receive financial support that can be tracked and more precisely measured for its necessity and effectiveness. The best way to do that is through a mechanism similar to the current system, i.e., through subsidies in the form of diversions of a specific amount or portion of State gaming tax revenues or gaming revenues generated at some or all of the casinos."

A spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton reacted to Quinn’s statements: “Now that the Governor has articulated his proposed changes, we will fold his recommendations into our ongoing discussion of how we can make the gaming bill better for the state. Additionally, we will be evaluating the Governor’s framework in light of what is passable by both chambers of the General Assembly. We look forward to developing the appropriate compromise with the Governor and members of the House.”

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