Members of the Illinois Senate clashed with gambling regulators Wednesday over a plan to put a casino in Chicago. But what started as a policy disagreement turned into personal attacks.
Chicago’s casino would have a feature that Gaming Board officials say is unique in America: the city would own it.
Construction and management decisions would be made by a special “authority,” like the ones that run White Sox park, Navy Pier and McCormick Place. Gaming Board officials say that doesn’t give them enough power to keep organized crime out of the construction process — which they say has happened in the past.
Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffee says the sponsor of the gambling bill should have consulted the board on the proposal. That did not sit well with Sen. Terry Link, a Democrat from Waukegan.
LINK: “So my job, from now on — and correct me if I’m wrong — every time I introduce a bill, I should go to the departments that it might affect and see if I got their divine intervention and OK?”
JAFFE: “Well if you had done what you should do, we wouldn’t be having this meeting today.”
LINK: “If you did what you should’ve, you should’ve come and saw me when I introduced the first bill.”
There was no vote on gambling expansion at the hearing. That’s not expected until later this spring.
— Brian Mackey
Gaming Board Says Staff Is Inadequate for Gambling Expansion
The Illinois Gaming Board says it has way too little staff to properly regulate the massive expansion of gambling the General Assembly is considering. Chairman Aaron Jaffee told Senators the work would challenge an agency that’s already understaffed.
JAFFEE: “We need 100 more positions right now. But if you pass the bill, we’re going to need 400 more positions. It’s just that simple.”
The plan calls for five new casinos — including ones in Chicago, Rockford, and Danville — plus slot machines at horse race tracks. Governor Pat Quinn has twice vetoed similar gambling expansion plans, but after negotiating with the sponsors, he’s indicated he might be willing to approve it.
— Brian Mackey