In less than three weeks the agreement that requires Des Plaines to pay portions of gaming tax revenue from Rivers Casino to the state and 10 disadvantaged communities could change.
Gov. Pat Quinn is reviewing, and is expected to take action on, a gaming expansion bill by the end of August. If passed, five new casinos will open, including one in Chicago, and slot machines will be added at six racetracks.
These so-called “racinos” pose a problem for Des Plaines, Mayor Martin Moylan said.
“We have problems with the slots,” Moylan said. “They’re going to affect us and affect our bottom line, at Maywood and also at Arlington [racetracks].”
In the only agreement of its kind in Illinois, Des Plaines agreed to pay the state $10 million in gaming taxes each year for 30 years, and divide 40 percent of the remaining revenue among 10 disadvantaged communities.
The current bill under review by the governor contains language that would ultimately reduce Des Plaines’ annual obligation to the state from $10 to $6 million, and increase the number of gambling positions at Rivers Casino from 1,200 to 1,600, the Daily Herald reported.
Still, Des Plaines Mayor Martin Moylan says the protections for Des Plaines written into the bill are not sufficient.
“I asked [the governor] to make exceptions for us with some language protecting us, taking some money off the money we owe already,” Moylan said. “So we’ve had many conversations about that, and some of the protections have been put into the new bill, but they’re not enough yet.”
Gov. Quinn has 60 days from when the bill was given to him, until Aug. 28, to veto, amendatory veto or sign the legislation into law.
Brooke Anderson, spokeswoman for Gov. Quinn, listed three concerns the governor had with 2011’s gaming expansion bill; preventing racetracks from installing slot machines was not among them. She said Gov. Quinn’s concerns were the scale of expansion, the lack of oversight and strong ethics standards and a provision to fund education.
Anderson said the current bill included a reduced expansion but lacked the necessary oversight and ethical standards the governor expected. Gov. Quinn has said any gaming expansion bill should include a ban on campaign contributions from the gaming industry, she said.
“In the post-Rod Blagojevich age, and in an age where we need ethics in government, we need integrity in government, we would think there would be a lot of support in the state for a gaming package that includes strong ethics and oversight standards,” Anderson said.
Des Plaines received more than $10.8 million from the Rivers Casino for 2011, which was divided into approximately $4.6 million for the state, $2.4 million for the 10 disadvantaged and approximately $3.7 million for Des Plaines in June.
Moylan said he was concerned about increased competition from racetracks, even though Rivers’ had exceeded revenue projections made by the city for its first year.
Gov. Quinn walked with Moylan, who is running for state representative of the 55th District, in Des Plaines’ Independence Day parade this year. Moylan said he was thankful Gov. Quinn listened to Des Plaines’ issues regarding expanding gaming.
“I can’t speak for [the governor], but we’re confident he listened to our concerns, and he cares about the residents of Des Plaines,” Moylan said.