Common Cause Illinois

Campaign Contributions Of The Gambling Industry

“Gambling has more of a history of corruption than any other industry.”

-U.S. Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL), testifying before the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1997


 Payout in Illinois: Campaign Contributions Of The Gambling Industry

Over a ten-year period in which it sought to dramatically expand legalized gambling and turn Illinois into the Las Vegas of the Midwest, the gambling industry gave $9.7 million in campaign contributions to elected officials, political candidates, and political parties between the beginning of 2002 and June 30, 2012.

One recent check on the industry’s influence in Illinois has been the establishment of campaign contribution limits in 2011. After giving an average of nearly $1 million between 2002 and 2010, industry giving declined to $475,000 in 2011, and it has given 286,000 in the first half of 2012. Yet after living with limits for just over a year—and with the notable exception that contributions to leadership committees still aren’t limited—the Illinois General Assembly this spring passed a bill that will lift limits in any election in which more than $100,00 has been spent on independent political expenditures.

Access the report      Read our press release     View complete list of gambling industry contributions (Excel file)

In 2011, the industry pushed legislation that would have more than tripled the amount of legalized gambling in Illinois. A bill passed in May 2012, SB 1849, is also very ambitious, proposing the creation of five new casinos. Despite calls from Governor Pat Quinn, by Common Cause Illinois, and by other good government groups the bill did not include a ban on campaign contributions from gambling interests. Several states have such a ban in place, including the gambling meccas of New Jersey and Louisiana. If Illinois is to become one of the most gambling-dense states in the country, it should at least adopt some of the safeguards other states have used to guard against the appearance of corruption and undue influence that comes with legislators being asked to regulate an industry Sen. Paul Simon famously described as having “more of a history of corruption than any other industry.”

View our 2011 report