Governor, mayor in high-stakes game of Chicago hold 'em

May 20, 2013 (CHICAGO)

During a speech to members of the City Club of Chicago, Gov. Quinn (D-Illinois) on Monday said if Chicago is to get the state's first government-owned casino, then the regulatory buck must stop in Springfield.

"The Gaming Board of the State of Illinois-an independent agency with a track record of success-must be in charge of overseeing all aspects of the casino" said the governor.

Inherent in his remarks was a suggestion that Chicago could not be trusted to own, operate and regulate a casino without falling into a cesspool of graft and corruption.

"We do not want our city and state to have less than excellent oversight" he said of the pending legislation in the Illinois House that would add five casinos in the state including Chicago.

The plan, if approved, would allow a mayoral-appointed board to supersede authority of the state's gaming commission in some matters.

Mr. Quinn actually cited various city scandals in his push to keep the state in charge of casinos, telling the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board that, "Things don't go so well when the city is running things … It's just common sense that the City should not be a regulatory authority on its gambling especially because this is the first municipally-owned casino in the country."

The governor's dissing of Chicago's trustworthiness drew a swift and sharp rebuttal from city hall.

"As Governor Quinn knows very well, there is the potential for corruption at all levels of Government," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spokesperson. "There is also a not so proud history in Illinois where Governors have attempted to manipulate and influence the gaming board for corrupt purposes. We cannot expose the taxpayers of Chicago to such risk," she said.

The verbal pushing and shoving over gambling expansion between Chicago's mayor and Illinois' governor came as the state legislature was once again playing beat the clock before summer recess.

Gov. Quinn said that he would not even consider gambling legislation before the state's pension debacle is resolved.

Whenever it does come to the governor's desk, Mayor Emanuel said he hopes the bill will treat new casinos equally.

"We agree that the Gaming Board should have maximum oversight over all gaming in Illinois," Mayor Emanuel's spokesperson said. "That is why the appropriate remedy is to grant the gaming board the authority to revoke the license of an operator of a Chicago casino which would effectively shut down its operations. Furthermore, the gaming board also has the ability to remove the Chicago Casino Authority's Board as well as its Executive Director, all appropriate powers for a state regulator."

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