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Crime Commission Blasts Gambling Expansion Plan

CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) -- The Chicago Crime Commission on Wednesday said that legislation to allow for a massive expansion of gambling in Illinois is "deeply flawed" and would be bad for the state.

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Mike Krauser reports, the legislation is still sitting in legislative limbo and Gov. Pat Quinn hasn't said whether he would sign or veto the proposal.

But the Chicago Crime Commission said Wednesday that Quinn should not sign the legislation because it doesn't include enough regulation to prevent corruption and influence from organized crime.

The legislation would allow for five new casinos in Illinois – including one in Chicago – plus slot machines at racetracks, the city's two airports and the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780's Mike Krauser reports


Crime Commission Executive Vice President Art Bilek said he sees very little good in the bill.

"This act does two things; it creates the largest gambling expansion in the history of the state of Illinois and it significantly reduces the ability of the state to regulate that gambling," Bilek said. "It's a quagmire of gambling sinkholes and hidden reductions of regulatory controls."

Bilek says the legislation allows for too much new gambling too quickly – without enough regulators to oversee all the new gambling positions.

He also noted that Chicago's casino wouldn't even be overseen by the Illinois Gaming Board, but a new body under the mayor's control.

"Corrupt politicians, backroom operators and members of the organized crime syndicate will be standing in line to apply for licenses," Bilek said.

And, he said, regulators won't have the time or bodies to weed out the bad ones, as they have up to now.

"We've got a gaming board that's got a gaming board that's got a good track record," Bilek said. "They've repeatedly found corrupt public officials, corrupt private individuals and organized crime syndicate connections in gaming in Illinois."

And with Chicago's record of corruption, he said, this is asking for trouble.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis, the new deputy director of the Crime Commission, said it's beyond comprehension how the legislature passed the gambling expansion bill.

He called it "dangerous."

"We believe there is a very high risk for scandal and corruption," Weis said.

Quinn said Wednesday that he still hasn't decided whether to sign or veto the legislation, as he is still meeting with supporters and opponents to get input.

He's voiced opposition to a major expansion of gambling in Illinois in the past, but has supported a Chicago casino.

The governor still hasn't received the legislation for official consideration, as Illinois Senate President John Cullerton put a legislative hold on the measure shortly after lawmakers approved it in May.

The move was intended to give lawmakers time to work out a deal for a possible "trailer bill" that would supplement the legislation so that Quinn can support the gambling expansion.

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