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Commission: Gambling Expansion Will Draw Organized Crime

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Photo Of Gamblers Playing The Slots. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Photo Of Gamblers Playing The Slots. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – The Chicago Crime Commission is warning Gov. Pat Quinn that if he signs the gambling expansion legislation now on his desk, organized crime will be involved.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, Crime Commission chairman J.R. Davis says it is beyond his comprehension that the Illinois House and Senate both passed the bill, which he calls “dangerous.”

“Federal prosecutors,” he says, “should plan for a constant stream of federal corruption indictments against government officials, gambling operators and members of the Crime Syndicate.”

Davis notes that the bill creates the Chicago Casino Development Authority, separate from the Illinois Gaming board, which, he says, is known for its integrity.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports

He adds that the move essentially puts Chicago gaming in untested and most likely politically-connected hands.

“With an apparent complete disregard for public safety, the Illinois legislature passed this bill without any budget provisions to increase the number of investigators necessary to begin policing this gaming expansion behemoth,” Davis said in a news release.

Overall, the Crime commission said, the gambling expansion will make Chicago “the Las Vegas of the Midwest.”

Quinn has expressed similar concerns about the proposal himself.

“It’s excessive. It’s top-heavy. It’s too much,” Quinn said Wednesday.

The gambling expansion plan includes authorization for casinos within the Chicago city limits and in the southern suburbs, Lake County, Rockford and Danville. It would also allow slot machines to be installed at racetracks, and at O’Hare and Midway international airports.

Quinn does seem to be open to the idea of a Chicago casino, a plan that has been championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Concerns about organized crime getting involved with casinos in Illinois are nothing new. In 1999, the state’s Gaming 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 by a new Gaming Board. The casino was never built.

If the Chicago casino goes ahead, it could go along the lakefront at the what many believe to be the most casino-ready location, though the operators of McCormick Place would like to keep conventions and a casino separated by a couple of miles.

It could also anchor the long overdue-renovation of the Congress Hotel, a great location scarred by labor strife for years.

But others believe a site farther from downtown, along the south lakefront, would both intercept Indiana-bound gamblers, while being far enough away not to compete with Chicago restaurants and other attractions.

Possible operators include MGM, Harrah’s and Wynn, but also a consortium of local hotel owners.

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