An event promoting efforts to clean up land in the Lake Calumet region turned into an impromptu lobbying session for a Chicago casino today.
The change of subject came when Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, took the podium from Gov. Pat Quinn, who was speaking about environmental restoration, and immediately noted the close proximity of a casino in Hammond, Indiana.
"Governor, this might be a little off topic," Cullerton said at the event on the far South side. "I don't know if we can see any eagles here, but we definitely can see the Hammond casino. Which reminds me, you and I and the mayor need to work on bringing a casino to Chicago so that... Illinois gamblers spend their money in Illinois, not Indiana."
The comments drew a roar of laughter from attendees, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has been pushing for a Chicago casino.
Quinn's face turned a tad red, but he appeared to take the ribbing in stride.
"I want to thank John for his targeted remarks," Quinn responded.
He later dodged questions about the status of gambling negotiations, taking advantage of Emanuel's suggestion that he turn attention to the young granddaughter of Rep. Mary Flowers, who had held the child throughout the event.
Lawmakers earlier this year passed a measure that would have established five new casinos, including one in Chicago, in addition to allowing slot machines at race tracks. But Quinn vowed to veto the measure, saying he would not support slots at tracks and encouraging lawmakers to return to the drawing board.
Efforts to scale back the proposal have stalled as lawmakers switched their focus to other issues, including tax break packages for businesses threatening to leave the state.
Gambling supporters have vowed to revisit the topic after the new year.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times