Sunday, September 16, 2007

Concerns Expressed by Chicago Crime Commission Regarding Proposed Expansion of Gambling

The Chicago Crime Commission The Chicago Crime Commissionnotes that the Illinois Senators and Representatives have again discussed legislative proposals to expand gaming in Illinois. The proposals include new gaming licenses for new casinos, including the City of Chicago, as well as the installation of slot machines at Illinois horse race tracks. However, the proposals do not appear to address the responsibility for suitability investigations to be conducted by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) on potential investors in these new gambling operations.

The IGB, as presently staffed, has experienced difficulty in timely reviewing applications for investments and conducting thorough background investigations. The IGB has never had sufficient staffing to routinely review all vendor contracts regardless of the service provided. The budget restrictions imposed by the State have, in the past, left the IGB staff with concerns about appropriate due diligence or comprehensive background investigations over all aspects of gaming. Adding new casino licenses and slot machines at horse race tracks would, potentially, completely overwhelm the ability of the IGB to provide complete, competent and independent oersight of the industry.

Arguments have previously been made that increasing the budget of the IGB in order to increase the staff and improve their ability to investigate and monitor the gaming industry would cost too much. The answer to this problem could be found in the gaming control operations in both Nevada and New Jersey. Both states require companies and individuals to pay a set amount before an investigation is initiated and to continue to finance the costs of each investigation, without any input or influence on the quality or extent of that investigation. Refusal to pay ends the licensing process. Each Illinois casino location could also be required to pay for the cost of IGB Agents who are required by law to be on-site during gaming activity, but who should be present at all times the casinos are open. This system would take the burden of the cost of the due diligence investigative process off of the State and place it on an industry that generates significant profits to the owners. This would not remove the need for a State budget for the overall operation of the IGB, but the primary costs would be shifted to the companies and individuals that benefit the most from the privilege of owning and operating gaming facilities in Illinois.

This system to increase the size of the staff of the IGB would also be much preferable to any proposed "out-sourcing" of this responsibility to private companies whose ownership and employees would also need complete background investigations.

This basic amendment to the financial operation of the IGB should be made at the time any additional licenses are made available in order to permit the IGB to continue to protect the integrity of gaming in Illinois.

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