Reporting Dana Kozlov
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board warned Gov Pat Quinn on Wednesday not to expand gambling operations in Illinois.
Aaron Jaffee said he wants Quinn to veto legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year that would allow for a massive expansion of casino gaming in Illinois.
Although Quinn cannot take action on the legislation until lawmakers send it to him, as CBS 2′s Dana Kozlov reports, Jaffe’s comments on the casino legislation come just days before the state’s tenth casino is set to open in suburban Des Plaines.
Gerald Bianchi is one of hundreds of people who will work at the new casino. Last October, he lost his construction job after 25 years in that industry. H
He said his new player services position at the Rivers Casino is a relief. Without it, he believes he’d still be looking for a job.
“I’m glad this came along,” he sia.d
There are hundreds of stories like his at River Casino
“I feel very blessed and fortunate to be here,” said Amanda Collier, an executive assistant to the casino’s general manager.
About 1,200 people were hired for full- and part-time casino jobs at the Des Plaines casino, with an average, starting, non-tip wage of $12 an hour.
But executives said that jobs aren’t the only local benefits.
“We buy a lot of products from people within the immediate area,”
Executive chef William McIlroy said.
The Des Plaines casino is just a stone’s throw from Rosemont, which lost the state’s 10th “riverboat” gaming license in 2005 over concerns about mob ties.
By law, it must still be near water and it is – sort of. The casino has a 50,000-square-foot water basin under the gaming floor.
“If there’s water underneath, we still comply by all state regulations,” said Al Liu, Rivers Casino’s vice president of marketing.
Rivers Casino is also opening as a gaming expansion bill sits in the legislature, just waiting for lawmakers to send it to Quinn’s desk for his signature or veto.
While Quinn has said he supports the Des Plaines casino, adding more might not be in the cards.
“I’m not afraid of saying no if it’s not good for the public,” Quinn said Wednesday.
Jaffe said Wednesday that he’d be “flabbergasted” if Quinn signs the legislation, calling it “garbage” and saying it’s full of regulatory loopholes.
The legislation would add five new casinos to the state, including one in Chicago. It would also allow for racetracks at both Chicago airports and at the state’s racetracks.
Lawmakers approved the casino expansion legislation two years after signing off on a law allowing video gambling at bars, restaurants and truck stops in Illinois. The Gaming Board is still in the process of setting the regulations for video gambling and would also be tasked with overseeing the new casinos.
Rivers Casino is a massive facility with seven restaurants. It’s expected to generate about $150 million a year in tax revenue for the state.