***updated with City Response***
Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday said if Chicago is to have its own casino, the Illinois Gaming Board must have "supreme" authority over it, rather than ceding power to the city.
Citing the Hired Truck scandal, Quinn said in a Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board interview that Chicago doesn't have the best track record: "things don't go so well when the city is running things."
Pending legislation in the Illinois House that would add five casinos in the state - including in Chicago -- contains language that would allow a mayoral-appointed board to trump authority of the state's gaming commission in some instances. The legislation would make Chicago the first City to own its own casino. Quinn reiterated what his office told the Sun-Times last week -- that there would be no casino deal if he isn't first sent a bill with comprehensive pension reform.
In remarks to the board, Quinn said negotiations are ongoing on the bill's language but he would insist that the gaming board has the final word. That includes clarifying language that would allow the gaming board to revoke the City's casino license if necessary.
"Understanding the city's casino would be municipally-owned, I do believe that the gaming board authority must be supreme," Quinn said. "The gaming board has to be the umpire. The final judge. I think that's imperative."
Asked if it were a must for his signature on legislation pending in the Illinois House, Quinn responded: "It has been from day one."
"The gaming board has to be the final junction. That pattern has worked well. We already know ... that things don't go so well when the city is running things. Hired Trucks and Silver Shovels ... 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 Sun-Times last week highlighted potential red flags raised by opponents, including from Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe who said the bill gave the mayoral-appointed Chicago Casino Authority final say in some areas of conflict and that it gave the City considerable power in the construction phase of the city-based casino.
"The bill says the Illinois Gaming Board shall control the gambling, OK. However, the Chicago Casino Authority would control the building of the casino," Jaffe said. "In Illinois, when you get into building and construction and stuff like that, you have to be very leery about what's going where. The largest fine ever imposed by the Illinois Gaming has to do with a type of building contract."
A statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spokeswoman responded:
"As Governor Quinn knows very well, there is the potential for corruption at all levels of Government which is why we agree that the Gaming Board should have maximum oversight over all gaming in Illinois. However, 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. 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."
GOV. QUINN: GAMING COMMISSION MUST HAVE 'SUPREME' AUTHORITY OVER CITY CASINO
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