Illinois is famous for two things The Blackhawks and politics. Both play a pivotal role in almost every household in the land of Lincoln as politics is followed as closely as the scores during the Stanley cup playoffs. But, in the last few years things have stalled the governments game on many key issues that could be putting more tax revenue on the table.
Right now the legalization of internet gaming may be the next victim of the continuing war between Governor Pat Quinn and the legislators led by the fellow Democrat Michael Madigan, whose daughter happens to be setting her sights on replacing her father as the big power broker in Illinois after passing on a run for the Governor’s mansion.
It is a popular topic and the latest hot issue is Senate Bill 1739. Which if passed would rake in almost a billion dollars in increased revenues to the already entrenched gambling concerns. Governor Pat Quinn is hoping to replace the 400 million he cut from education funding in Illinois, which has stirred up fervor all over the state. Another concern is funneling revenues into the state pension funds that have become a political hot potato and election concern if he intends to run for another term.
SB 1739 would allow for the building of 5 brick and mortar casinos in Illinois and legalize many forms of online gambling games such as Poker, Blackjack and Slots. In addition under the proposed legislation racetracks would be allowed to install slot machines. The estimated $150 million dollar projected income from the new Internet gaming alone is earmarked for the 97 million in unfunded liability for State pension funds that is rising 17 million a day and costing taxpayers up to 5 million dollars a day.
There are concerns by many of the possible misuse of these funds. Anyone who is familiar with Illinois politics is hardly surprised as the overall trust level is quite low. There has been great controversy of late in the mismanagement of funding in state government level. One example is in the recent Metra RTA Scandal where five members of the board including the Chairman resigned. There are real concerns that the revenue will not reach their intended recipients but be diverted to other concern or the pockets of Quinn’s cronies.
Another issue brought up by the opposition is that it may not increase overall revenue as much as expected based on the possibility that they simply will not be making new players, and thus, and additional source of income. They argue that this will only be taking business from the land based casinos where taxes are already being paid. However at the time of this writing the battle of control of the Illinois senate between Quinn and the legislators continues as this, and 2 other pieces of key legislation have become stalled because of political infighting. Quin did step up and sign and online betting law what is called a temporary fix for racetracks to continue operating.
All of this at a time when Illinois unemployment is the second highest in the nation can not help the overall fiscal outlook. It is time for Quinn to man up and put pen to paper and start doing the job he was hired to do by the people of Illinois. To make jobs and make money.