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Governor Quinn Becoming Frustrated With Gambling Expansion Efforts

The gambling expansion effort in Illinois has been ongoing now for several years, and Governor Pat Quinn is getting fed up with the amount of effort lawmakers are putting into the issue. The governor spoke this week of how he would like lawmakers to refocus their efforts on other areas of need.

"We have very, very high priorities in restructuring Medicaid and reforming our pension system and getting a good budget. So, we don't want to get distracted here," said Governor Quinn. "I think we've got to keep our one eye on the prize, and the prize is complete restructuring and reform of two programs that need fundamental overhaul."

Lawmakers last year passed a bill that would bring a major overhaul to the gambling industry in Illinois. Senate President John Cullerton, however, stayed the legislation when it was learned that Governor Quinn intended on vetoing the bill. Cullerton spent months prodding Quinn to discuss what aspects of the bill the governor disapproved of, and late in 2011, Quinn obliged.

Earlier this year, lawmakers again started to restructure the bill with the hopes of sending it to the governor for approval. The original bill would have brought slot machines to Chicago airports, and also would have permitted several new land-based casinos in the state.

Quinn did not like the broad gambling expansion plans, and suggested that the legislation be scaled back. Now, with an election cycle about to begin, and a general election in November, Quinn is turning his attention to the economy and several big issues such as Medicaid.

Pro-gaming lawmakers believe that gambling expansion could bring hundreds of millions of dollars into the state budget, and also create thousands of employment opportunities. The racing industry has been the biggest opponent of gambling expansion, and legislators pushing the new forms of gambling are working on ways to satisfy the racing interests.

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