* Ernest Yelton, the executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission, worries about how gaming expansion in Kentucky and a casino in Michigan will eat in to his state’s revenues. But he’s not so concerned about Illinois’ proposed expansion plan…
“One of our advantages to Illinois is they, historically, seem to do everything wrong. Everything they seem to do has backfired and it has been to our benefit,” Yelton said.
As an example, Yelton pointed to the passage of Illinois’ statewide smoking ban, which goes into effect Jan. 1. Casinos are not exempted from the law.
“Well, when Don Barden bought the Trump (Casino in Gary) he made one floor smoke-free and within two weeks he had to change it because people wouldn’t go. Gamblers smoke. I don’t like it. I don’t smoke, but they do,” Yelton said.
Yelton pointed out that the disagreements that have dominated Illinois politics come at a time when Democrats control all branches of state government.
“I just see no agreement from those people,” Yelton said.
* Phil Kadner points out one ray of hope…
Capitol Fax, published by Rich Miller and an excellent source of inside information about Springfield, reported Monday that Madigan has agreed to also use casino gambling revenue for public education.
Until last week, Capitol Fax reported, Madigan had insisted that all new casino money be used only for capital projects.
* Kadner also quotes state Rep. Lou Lang about the state’s gaming prospects. Lang is one of two House Democratic point persons on gaming expansion…
Since Lang always has been something of an optimist when it comes to casino expansion, I was reluctant to take his words at face value.
“I’m telling you that I’ve been at this for years, and we’re closer to getting it done than ever before,” Lang said.
* So far, at least, opposition to more gaming in Illinois has been muted, ineffective or mostly ignored…
The vast expansion of gambling that Blagojevich and the legislative leaders discussed once again Monday is a prospect that outrages some. They’re demanding a voter referendum first.
“They cannot buy the ballot box,” said Rev. Tom Grey, a gambling opponent. “What they can buy are state legislators.” […]
“The massive expansion of public gambling is not what the public wants,” said Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn. “In fact I think the public ought to have a chance by referendum to weigh in on whether all this gambling — enhanced gambling — is a good idea.”
* Meanwhile, the absolutely bungled 10th license might be back in play…
The Illinois Gaming Board is taking preliminary steps to reissue the state’s long-dormant 10th casino license after a recent set of court rulings greatly limited efforts by Emerald Casino officials to open in Rosemont.
Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe said the state will begin soliciting bids from investment bankers to try to find an expert to help sell the license to generate “as much money … as we possibly can.”
“This has been a long time coming,” Jaffe said at Monday’s board meeting. “The 10th license has been dormant since 1997 and cost the state an estimated $1 billion in lost revenue.”
But don’t get your hopes up too high…
While the Gaming Board is moving forward with plans to sell the license, Emerald officials said last week that they will continue to fight in federal Bankruptcy Court.
* More from Paul…
* Editorial: With Gov. Zamboni in charge, state keeps slipping
* Sen. Rutherford audio, expects mass transit to wait until January
* State lawmakers could vote next week on transit, gaming