Friday, May 25, 2012

Gambling again, didn’t we just do this?

We’re back to playing political chicken, it would seem.

For the Illinois House of Representatives this week decided once again to take its best shot at passing a measure that would give us more, more, more casinos than we already have.

TRYING TO BOLSTER the state’s finances and get Illinois out of debt at the expense of the weak-willed who can’t resist the chance to throw away their money – based on the pipe dream that they will become instant millionaires and never have to work a day in their lives ever again!

Remember last year?

The General Assembly passed a bill that would have created more casinos, while also allowing for slot machines to be installed in places like horse racetracks and at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

But the Illinois Senate pulled a maneuver I had never heard of before.

TO PREVENT GOV. Pat Quinn from using his “veto” power to kill the bill off, the bill was stuck in a desk drawer controlled by Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago.

After all, if the bill never went to Quinn for consideration, he couldn’t reject it.

The theory was that the legislators would work on Quinn’s psyche during the summer months to sway him, then would let him have the bill when he could be trusted to sign it into law.

But it seems this was one time that the high-minded and principled Pat Quinn (at least he thinks he is) actually stuck to his convictions. He was never swayed.

The newest 'casino' -- legislators gamble that Gov. Pat Quinn has no political willpower

FOR ALL I know, that piece of paper is still sitting in a drawer – unless it got used as a napkin by chance on one of the late nights that legislators were at work and they ordered in pizzas to tide themselves over.

The line about the napkin may be a joke. Then again, so was the whole effort last year.

Which is why I find it laughable that legislators are going through the same process again this year.

The Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill, and the Illinois Senate says it is inclined to support the measure. It seems that state Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, still wants that casino in Park City – a dinky speck of a town that happens to lie within his legislative district.

THE FACT THAT got pointed out in the reports this week is that 69 state representatives voted in favor of the measure – whereas it would take 71 representatives to vote for it should Quinn veto the bill and the General Assembly tries to override him.

Can two arms be twisted by the proponents of more legalized gambling (who invariably will argue that I am being biased by refusing to refer to it as ‘gaming’) to ensure that the General Assembly can run roughshod over the Mighty Quinn?

Or will the legislators have to find another desk drawer in which to stick this particular version (which isn’t all that different from what got voted on last year) of the bill?

Meanwhile, the people of Danville, Rockford, Park City and some place like Lynwood, Ford Heights or Country Club Hills will get all delusional about the chance to have legal casino gambling within their boundaries.

PERHAPS MAYOR RAHM Emanuel will follow up his self-declared victory in hosting the NATO Summit (the city did not collapse into rubble from the rabble of protesters) by stepping up the political pressure on Quinn to get him to give in – particularly since the city would get the long-desired land-based casino (4,000 gambling posts!).

Although since that aspect was never the part that concerned Quinn (he hates the inclusion of slots at non-casinos, thinking they will cut into the market for the already-operating casinos), I don’t see that he would be swayed.

If anything, state Rep. Louis Lang, D-Skokie, a long-time legalized gambling proponent, may have put this issue best. He told reporter-types at the Statehouse in Springfield that all these gambling opportunities would create up to $300 million more per year in tax revenues to the state.

Will Quinn remain so ‘mighty’ at the thought of saying ‘no’ at a time when Illinois state government really can use every penny it can get its hands upon?

OR IS IT true that “Every man has his price,” and $300 million might be the price for Pat Quinn?

At this point, nothing would surprise me!


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