Gamers hope for Illinois law change

Feb 17, 2009 5:05 PM
Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener |

There are signs of an effort to amend Illinois legislation that slaps the four Chicago area casinos with an extra 3 percent for the benefit of long-suffering racetracks that have had trouble competing with the state’s casinos.

The casinos affected by the levy have fought it from day one. Penn National Gaming CEO Peter Carlino says it will be taken to the Supreme Court if that is what’s necessary. The 3 percent bill is one of the measures allegedly signed by former governor Rod Blagojevich as part of a quid pro quo agreement with unknown track representatives, one of those things that led to the governor’s impeachment.

"It just showed the audacity of this guy," Carlino snarled, "targeting one industry to benefit another … This 3 percent is one of the most outrageous pieces of legislation any of us have ever seen, but Illinois now has the chance to do the right thing and clean up this corrupt legislation."

Harrah’s Senior VP Jan Jones said it is still too early in the administration of former lieutenant governor Pat Quinn who succeeded Blagojevich to speculate about the likelihood of a change for the better in the over-all political environment.

"We’re just hoping we hang on to the best parts of the status quo," she said. "Illinois has always been a difficult state for casinos and that was true long before Blagojevich came to office."

Carlino agreed, saying, "Illinois is a wonderful market but it has been an awful place politically. There are a lot of conflicting forces at work."