Gov. Pat Quinn hints at a Chicago casino deal in early January

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SPRINGFIELD–After deep-sixing a casino expansion package in August, Gov. Pat Quinn Thursday raised the prospects of another gambling deal taking flight during a lame-duck legislative session in January that could include a Chicago casino and infuse schools with a windfall of new dollars.

“I really feel we will address this issue and hopefully resolve it by the 9th of January, which is the deadline for this session of the General Assembly. I’m very hopeful of that,” Quinn told reporters when asked about resurrecting a Chicago casino.

The governor, who vetoed a gambling package sent to him last spring, reiterated his demand that there be specific dollars set aside from any casino expansion package for schools across the state.

“When I vetoed the legislation before, it did not have dedicated, earmarked money for education. I think that’s absolutely required, imperative, if we’re going to do this. I feel if that’s addressed, that certainly will go along way toward getting the job done,” the governor said after an event at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.

Quinn also renewed his push for a prohibition on campaign contributions from gambling interests, an ethics initiative he said that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has told him “privately” that he agrees with.

For years, speculating on gambling packages is one of the great parlor games in Springfield, though the past two years the General Assembly has gone farther toward expansion than at any point since riverboat casinos were authorized more than two decades ago.

Twice, the House and Senate passed big expansion packages, only to run into a Quinn buzzsaw. The first time, in 2011, the Senate refused to relinquish a bill that passed because of the governor’s threatened veto. The second time, this year, Quinn vetoed it.

A lame-duck session potentially starting as early as Jan. 2 also is when Quinn and the Democratic leaders are contemplating passage of a pension-rollback package that stalled last May and again failed to materialize during a one-day August special legislative session that Quinn ordered.

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