Illinois Gaming Board Outlines Gambling Expansion Concerns

chi-state-government-imageRepresentatives of the Illinois Gaming Board have outlined several concerns about the gambling expansion that is about to take place in the state. The state Senate will be reviewing a gambling expansion plan for the state and the Board is worried about if they can actually handle the changes proposed.

Aaron Jaffe, the Gaming Board Chairman, along with Board Administrator Mark Ostrowski, have outlined what they believe needs to be worked on with the gambling expansion. Jaffe commented on regulation after the recent hearing by stating:

“I’m interested in regulation. If they are really interested in regulation, we ought to sit down and talk. Whether it was a dog-and-pony show, I don’t know.”  

When the Senate Committee met, Jaffe brought a notebook full of concerns about the bill which is up for passage. The hearing took two hours to complete, with Jaffe and Senator Terry Link going back and forth on several subjects regarding expansion concerns in the state.

Jaffe told the Canton Daily Ledger that the Gaming Board would need to hire 300 more people to be able to meet the needs of the gaming expansion. The bill would allow five additional casinos with slot machines added to both horse tracks and other Chicago airports. The state would also offer 27,000 gaming positions instead of 12,000.

Jaffe stated that if the Gaming Board does not have the staff they will be unable to do the regulating needed. John Cullerton, the Senate President, stated that the bill gives the Gaming Board the authorization to hire more people and there will be money allocated to do so. However, Jaffe and Ostrowski both state that it would take many months to hire the appropriate numbers considering the hiring rules of the state.

The new bill is asking for a very large expansion and it would happen all at once. The Gaming Board has certain deadlines to meet according to the bill and Ostrowski states that when you consider the size of the expansion along with the deadlines stated in the bill, it would be challenging. Despite the statements of the board, Senator Don Harmon has questioned why the board would be unable to act quickly in regards to the expansion.

The meeting continued with Jaffe even questioning and criticizing the size of the bill, which is over 550 pages. Jaffe stated the gambling expansion bill contains ‘junk from top to bottom’ and that it is ‘impossible to read.’ The governor of the state, Pat Quinn, seems to be considering the board’s statements. He does not want to take any action that could possibly decrease the board’s effectiveness, going on to state:

“I think we’ve got to protect the independence of the Gaming Board. I think we have to be exceptionally careful in places like Chicago where we must have oversight all the time so we don’t have wrong people in gambling doing bad things.”

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