The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that lawmakers who voted for the
bill received about 60 percent more from the industry than those
voting against it.
The gambling industry gave about $812,000 to legislators, Gov. Pat
Quinn and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel since the start of 2010,
according to the newspaper's analysis, which also found industry
donations to Illinois politicians totaled nearly $10 million during
the past 10 years.
Quinn hasn't said what he'll do once the gambling bill reaches his
desk. The measure would authorize five new casinos in Illinois.
Six gambling states ban political contributions from gaming
interests. Illinois Gaming Board chairman Aaron Jaffe said he
supports a ban in Illinois to prevent the industry from having too
much influence over gambling regulations.
"My job is to protect the public interest, and I would hope that
legislators know that is their responsibility, too," Jaffe said.
The Tribune's report included a list of politicians who received the
most cash from gambling interests in the past 18 months. Leading the
list was Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, who
received $122,200. Others were Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie Democrat, who
received $91,500; Emanuel, who got $81,000; House Republican Leader
Tom Cross of Oswego, who got $75,034; Senate Republican Leader
Christine Radogno of Lemont, who got $73,953; and House Speaker
Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat, who got $54,400.
The top political donor was the Arlington Park racetrack, its owners
and related companies, the Tribune's analysis found. The racetrack
in Arlington Heights, near Chicago, and its associates gave more
than $250,000 to lawmakers since January 2010.
The proposed gambling expansion would allow slot machines at horse
racetracks. It also would lower tax rates for existing casinos and
speed the rollout of video gambling in bars and truck stops.
In reaction to the Tribune's analysis, lawmakers rejected the idea
that donations from the gaming industry swayed their votes. Illinois
Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, a sponsor of the gambling expansion
bill, told the newspaper he takes "great offense" at that
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Asked about the influence of gaming contributions by The Associated
Press, Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the governor decides
how to act on each bill based on the merits of the bill and whether
it's in the best interest of the people of Illinois. The governor is
in the process of "closely reviewing the facts" and listening to
supporters and opponents, Anderson said.
The AP also left phone and email messages Sunday seeking comment on
the issue from Emanuel and Cullerton.
Illinois Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, voted against
the gambling expansion even though he received donations from
casinos and racetracks. Millner said it may be time to think about a
ban on political contributions from gambling interests.
"It is a lot of money," Millner said. "For public perception, that
might not be a bad way to go."
Information from: Chicago Tribune,
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