I-Team Report: Don't Bet On It

July 19, 2011 10:00:00 PM PDT
Not everyone is welcome at Illinois' newest, biggest casino that has just opened in suburban Des Plaines. And some who are allowed in to gamble might surprise you.

If the Chicago mob wanted to have a boy's night out at the state's newest casino - or any other casino in Illinois - it could. Not one of the city's Outfit bosses, made members or street soldiers is on the Illinois Gaming Board's official list of excluded persons.

When the ribbon was cut at the Des Plaines casino, hundreds of eager gamblers were lined up and ready to play, welcomed into a mecca of slot machines and table games. But unlike Las Vegas and Atlantic City that have banned at least the upper crust of local organized crime from casinos, Illinois comparatively short list of excluded persons does not. That means if current Chicago Outfit boss John "No Nose" DiFronzo were to drive five miles from his house in Elmwood Park to the new Rivers Casino, he could walk right in and gamble, even though DiFronzo was convicted of orchestrating a mob takeover of a casino.

Nor could authorities keep out Marco "The Mover" D'Amico, a convicted mob capo with more than five decades of illegal gambling and other rackets under his wasteband.

Also absent from the Illinois exclusion list is ex-Chicago police detective Fred Pascente, convicted of mail fraud in 1995 and listed as an associate of the Chicago Outfit. Pascente is on the Nevada casino exclusion list, banned for life in Vegas and named on the Delaware exclusion list. But Fred Pascente does not appear on the Illinois list, even though the I-Team found him still living in a Melrose Park apartment, about a 15 minute drive to the state's newest casino.

Pascente wasn't home Wednesday afternoon and hasn't returned the I-Team's calls. But if he and other gangsters aren't banned from Illinois casinos, who is?

Twenty people are in the so-called black book. Almost half of them were put on in the 1990s. They include cheaters, crooked casino workers, casino rules violators and people described as having "unsavory reputations."

Among them is James R. Dvorak, the one-time undersheriff of Cook County and ex-county Republican leader. He was added to the list two years ago after serving a federal prison sentence for bribery and tax evasion and being accused of taking mob payoffs to protect gambling rackets.

In a phone interview Wednesday, Dvorak said he considered challenging his being listed but decided against it. He said he still questions why he was put on the list shortly after it was revealed he had business dealings with the city of Des Plaines.

The I-Team asked the chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, Aaron Jaffe, and gaming board administrator Mark Ostrowski to explain the exclusion list. Through a spokesman, both said they were too busy.

State regulations allow individuals to be banned from casinos if they have been:

  • convicted of a felony
  • any crime of moral turpitude
  • any gaming crime
  • had a" notorious or unsavory reputation" that would adversely affect public confidence and trust in gaming
  • Under Illinois Gaming Board rules, there is one other way a person can be added to the exclusion list: if his or her name is on a such a list from some other state such as Nevada.

    There is another list of names excluded from Illinois casinos: problem gamblers who have decided to exclude themselves. More than 8,000 people are now signed up in that program.

    Illinois Gaming Board

    Illinois Riverboat Gambling Act

    Illinois Listed of Excluded Persons

    Nevada List of Excluded Persons

    New Jersey List of Excluded Persons

    Delaware List of Excluded Persons

    Illinois Council on Problem Gambling

    Load Comments