Stung by a legislative loss to the horse racing industry, Illinois' casinos are contemplating legal action to block a plan to shift $36 million annually from four Chicago area casinos to racetracks and horsemen.
Gov. Blagojevich is expected to sign legislation he helped pass to take 3 percent of revenues from the state's top-grossing casinos in the next two years and give it to the racing industry, which has donated roughly $250,000 to him.
Now setting aside the fact that I have had bills on issues like campaign finance reform that I can't get called ONCE over a period of YEARS, and this bill gets called in the House THREE times in a MONTH (allowing sufficient pressure to be applied to certain members in order for them to have an epiphany that their previous 'no' votes were somehow misguided), I just think that this is a bad bill.
Let me make a couple of things clear. I have a lot of respect for the horse racing industry and consider a number of their representatives to be friends. I have not been a proponent of increased casino gaming in the past (I voted against the Rosemont bill). That having been said, this is still just a shaky way for us to do business.
And while I think that the casino owners are serious about their threats of legal actions, I have no way of knowing what the courts would do with this issue. But common sense should dictate that it is wrong to tax one segment of an industry in order to enhance the bottom line of another segment of the same industry. You don't tax Starbuck's because Dunkin Donuts is having a hard time making a go of it.
Time, and maybe the courts, will decide the fate of this issue. But this may wind up being on of those votes (remember the quickly struck down SBC bill a little while back?) that comes back to haunt some people in the future.