Illinois’ proposal to expand gambling throughout the state including over the Internet has some state officials worried that corruption will become widespread.
Representatives from both the Chicago Crime Commission and the Illinois Gaming Control Board voiced concerns over SB 1739, a proposal calling for five new casinos throughout the state, the installation of slot machines at thoroughbred and harness racing tracks, and online gambling. Such a large expansion plan might overburden the state’s regulatory and crime-fighting efforts.
“Without the necessary regulations being in place, there is every likelihood that organised crime and corruption will enter the gaming system and Illinois will suffer another blow to its national reputation,” said Arthur Bilek, the director of the Chicago Crime Commission.
Bilek’s comments were stated in a letter that was presented at a hearing held in order to air grievances related to SB 1739. His concerns were echoed by state control board chairman Aaron Jaffe, who stated that the measure as its currently written is much too broad and his staff would not be able to properly regulate such a large increase in gambling, eGR reported.
Illinois has long suffered from crime and corruption dating back to the Al Capone era in the roaring 20’s when the Chicago mob boss paid off cops and politicians in order to run his criminal enterprise. Six Illinois governors have been accused of crimes while in office or shortly after entering the private sector. The last of those was former Governor Rod Blagojevich, currently incarcerated on a 14-year bid on fraud charges related to his efforts to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after Obama was elected president.
Illinois’ current governor, Pat Quinn, is well aware of the state’s reputation. Quinn is open to considering gambling expansion, but wants to include a provision that would prevent gaming companies from contributing to political campaigns in order to stop corruption.