Illinois Gaming Board Could Become ‘Pro-Gaming’ as State Awaits Final Bill Approvals
Posted on: June 10, 2019, 10:05h.
Last updated on: June 11, 2019, 12:25h.
Illinois government officials are relatively restrained on the eve of the state’s expected expansion in gambling — despite one report efforts are underway to make the Gaming Board “pro-gaming.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to soon sign the far-reaching gaming bill approved earlier this month by the General Assembly. It allows for a new casino in Chicago, sports betting and additional gambling opportunities in several locations.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Sunday plans exist to make the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) more “pro-gaming,” according to state Sen. Terry Link, D-Vernon Hills, who sponsored the legislation, SB 690.
“You’re going to see changes rapidly,” Link told the newspaper. Under the bill, the IGB will regulate six new brick and mortar casinos.
Currently, the state issued 10 riverboat casino licenses. Riverboat venues have been overseen by the IGB since 1991.
Also, video gaming was set up in Illinois in 2009. It is regulated, too, by the IGB.
One immediate step is to fill a vacant position on the IGB. No word on who may be the nominee for the fifth seat.
“All of the governor’s current appointees will all comply with the language contained in SB 690,” Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary to Pritzker, said in a statement released to Casino.org about the legislation.
We look forward to having a skilled and diverse board that will both regulate and effectively support gaming in Illinois,” Abudayyeh added.
Fruchter New IGB Head
Last month, the IGB appointed a new Administrator for the regulatory body. Marcus D. Fruchter, a veteran attorney, was chosen as the successor to Agostino Lorenzini, who simultaneously was Acting Administrator and General Counsel.
Fruchter was a lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Enforcement Division and earlier was an attorney working at private law firms. At the SEC, he investigated and helped to prosecute securities fraud such as insider trading and cyber security violations.
A pressing concern is to undertake a feasibility study once the governor signs the bill. The multi-month study will be done by an independent professional or firm who will review the feasibility of the Chicago gaming venue.
The findings will be reported to the city and the IGB. Link said that additional legislation may be needed following the recommendations from the consultant and eventual approval by the IGB.
Beyond Chicago, other casinos will open in Waukegan, suburbs located south of Chicago, Williamson County, Rockford and Danville, under the bill.
A pending issue is where the Chicago gaming venue will be located. Pritzker has leaned against locating the casino in the downtown business district or McCormick Place, the Sun-Times reported.
The newspaper also pointed out the new venue cannot be too close to either Rivers Casino in Des Plaines or the proposed new casino in southern suburbs. Otherwise, the proximity and competition could hurt some of the casinos, through a phenomenon known as cannibalization.
Beyond the new casinos, many passengers stopping at Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports will be given the chance to gamble. Slot machines will be located at the busy terminals, according to the bill.
Under the legislation, sports wagering licenses could be given to current and new casinos, in addition to athletic venues and racetracks.
When it comes to large venues, like Wrigley Field, which have more than 17,000 seats, operators can apply for a four-year license to provide wagering within five blocks of the property. Limited online sports betting will be implemented after an 18-month delay, under the proposal.
IGB Meeting on Thursday
On Thursday, the IGB is scheduled to hold a meeting. It is uncertain how the board will address expanded gambling during the meeting.
An IGB official declined to answer direct questions on board activities related to gambling expansion. Instead, he referred to existing documents found on the board’s website.
Casino.org also reached out to Sen. Link. He did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
CORRECTION: An earlier version identified Donald Tracy as Administrator of the IGB. He remains the Chairman. Agostino Lorenzini was Acting Administrator. We regret the error.
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