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Crime Commission Wants Gaming Board Chairman Re-Appointed

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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – The Chicago Crime Commission is urging Gov. Pat Quinn to re-appoint the retired judge who heads the Illinois Gaming Board.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the commission is concerned that without him, organized crime could get involved in legal gambling.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports

Retired Judge Aaron Jaffe was appointed to head the gaming board by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2005, after the previous board decided to award the notorious Emerald Casino a license in Rosemont six years earlier, over objections that some investors had ties to organized crime.

A revocation hearing dragged out for years afterward, but ultimately, Emerald Casino’s license was revoked.

“They did not grant them the license, so we know organized crime attempts to influence the Illinois Gaming Board,” said Art Belik, executive vice president of the Chicago Crime Commission.

Belik wrote the governor to keep Judge Jaffe in place.

“Millions and millions of dollars are at stake here,” Belik said, “so you’ve got to have a totally incorruptible man.”

Quinn is not saying if he would re-appoint Jaffe, and the retired judge himself isn’t sure he wants to stay on.

This all comes as legalized video poker is tied up in the courts, but is getting closer to reality.

Video poker was legalized as part of the state’s $31 billion capital construction program in 2009, but the program was tossed out by a federal Appellate panel earlier this year on the grounds that it dealt with too many subjects of legislation at once, in violation of the state constitution.

A gambling expansion bill that would have added five new casinos – including one in the city of Chicago – died in the state Senate in January. The bill also would have brought slot machines to areas restricted to ticketed passengers in both O’Hare and Midway international airports, and at the Arlington Park racetrack.

Do you think Judge Jaffe should be reappointed as Gaming Board chairman? Leave your comments below.

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