Gov. Pat Quinn has until Tuesday to act on a bill that has been sitting on his desk since June 29 and calls for legalizing slots machines at Illinois horse racing tracks and other gaming expansion.
The governor can either sign the bill into law, veto it, issue an amendatory veto or not sign it, which in that event the bill would automatically become law.
What will happen is anyone's guess right now. But Lanny Brooks, the executive director of the Illinois Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, believes that Quinn will probably issue an amendatory veto, meaning that the governor would sign the bill only if lawmakers agree to certain changes or stipulations. The General Assembly would have a chance to override the amendatory veto when lawmakers return in Springfield in November for the annual veto session or make the changes.
"We don't think he will sign it and we don't think he will make a blank veto," Brooks said. "It's somewhere in the middle that is probably what will happen."
On Monday, the governor's office was not commenting.
Brooks, who in recent years has lobbied lawmakers in Springfield for on-track gaming at the state's horse racing venues, said it is difficult to know what will happen.
"We have some idea, but we won't know until we see it, so we're anxiously waiting," he said.
Tuesday marks the 60th day since SB1849 advanced to Quinn's desk. It is the second consecutive year both the Illinois House and Senate passed a gaming expansion bill that included legalizing slots machines at Illinois five tracks, including Fairmount Park in Collinsville. Last year, Quinn announced that he would veto any gaming expansion legislation, and the bill was never forwarded to his desk. This year, the bill is one step closer to becoming law.
Track operators have argued that creating these so-called "racinos" at Illinois horse tracks would help even the playing field because other tracks in surrounding states like Indiana and Iowa already allow it. These tracks in neighboring states have been able to attract more horse owners because they can award higher purses. On average, horse tracks in Iowa and Indiana have awarded as much as three times the daily prize winnings of Illinois tracks because Iowa and Indiana tracks already have slots and can generate more revenue.
Fairmount Park President Brian Zander has also argued that slots would help the Collinsville track compete for gambling dollars with adjacent casinos like the Casino Queen in East St. Louis and Lumiere Place in downtown St. Louis.
On Monday, a statement issued from his office revealed that Zander is withholding further comment until Quinn acts.
Brooks said he is cautiously optimistic and admits that he may not get any sleep while he waits.
"Until the governor comes out tomorrow, no one really knows for sure," he said.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 239-2526.