An obscure panel of lawmakers unexpectedly shot down video gambling reforms Tuesday, leaving regulators grasping to close loopholes in the lucrative business.
Aaron Jaffe, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, which proposed the reforms, said he was “astounded” by the move, which came with no public discussion after a closed-door meeting by the lawmakers.
“This is an open invitation for bad people to come into gambling,” Jaffe said.
In explaining the vote, state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said the Gaming Board “exceeded their authority.” Lang, who has long supported gambling expansion and who has often been at odds with Jaffe over regulation, received about $70,000 in campaign contributions tied to a Louisiana businessman who could be excluded by the reform.
First of all, this was a unanimous decision by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The committee is only “obscure” to those who know little about it. It’s also a bipartisan committee that’s co-chaired by Democratic Sen. Don Harmon and Republican Rep. Tim Schmitz. Look at the membership list for yourself and tell me everybody on there is an ally of organized crime. Please.
The Illinois Gaming Board is demanding answers about why a panel of lawmakers this week rejected a series of proposed video gambling reforms, including blacklisting some felons..
* OK, wait a second. These rules went way beyond “blacklisting some felons.”
And maybe Chairman Jaffe or the Sun-Times could’ve just picked up the phone and called a random JCAR member. I chose Rep. Greg Harris, who said committee members had a few major concerns.
The emergency rule, Harris said, would conceivably banish far too many people from working in bars, restaurants, etc. where video gaming terminals are located. A waitress with a pot conviction 30 years ago could possibly be put on the board’s “exclusion list,” Harris said. And the same goes for people who work for vendors who supply those taverns, restaurants, truck stops, etc. and for those who aren’t even convicted of anything.
Also, the Gaming Board chose to issue emergency rules, rather than go through the normal rule-making process. There were just too many questions about whether the proposed rules went further than the law allows.
* Here is the language which caused JCAR to reject Jaffe’s emergency proposals…
The Administrator or Board may place a person on the Video Gaming Board Exclusion List for any of the following reasons (which parallel the reasons for placement on the existing Riverboat Gambling Exclusion List established for riverboat gambling by Subpart G of 86 Ill. Admin. Code 3000):
* Conviction in any jurisdiction of a felony, crime involving gaming, crime of moral turpitude, or crime of dishonesty. […]
* Performance of any act, or notorious or unsavory reputation, that would adversely affect public confidence and trust in gaming.
Yep. Pretty darned broad, and well beyond the rules for Riverboats, which the Gaming Board claims this proposal “parallels.”
Less yellow journalism, please.
…Adding… Wordslinger makes some excellent points in comments…
Seriously, a “black book” for video gambling? Give me a break. How do you skim the machines when they’re hooked up to a state monitor and the state collects and disburses the money?
By Jaffee’s logic, shouldn’t you have a “black book” for every business that has a lottery machine?
Just like the lottery put the illegal Policy Wheel games out of business, legal video gambling will put illegal video gambling out of business. So who’s shilling for whom here?