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Pritzker hopes to unload casino stake by December

Monday, Apr 23, 2018

* Background from the Daily Herald

The Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin has been sold for $327.5 million.

MGM Resorts International along with its venture partner are selling the casino to Eldorado Resorts.

The cash deal is expected to close within 12 months. […]

The casino, which opened to the public Oct. 6, 1994, was once a bustling venue. However, it has had to contend with competition from Rivers Casino, which opened in 2011 in Des Plaines, and from the video gambling industry.

Grand Victoria Casino posted $168.7 million in revenues last year, up from $163.5 million in 2016, according to data from the Illinois Gaming Board. The casino’s revenues steadily declined since 2007, when they reached a peak of $436.7 million.

* WBEZ

Pritzker’s billionaire family has held financial interests in casinos for decades. He now invests in a company that holds a roughly one percent stake in the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, according to financial disclosures and his campaign.

That means Pritzker could reap nearly $3.27 million from the potential $327.5 million sale of the northwest suburban casino to a Reno, Nev.-based gambling company called Eldorado Resorts, Inc. The deal announced this week still requires Illinois Gaming Board approval.

If the deal goes through by the end of 2018, as planned, the transaction eliminates a thorny conflict for Pritzker should he win.

But if the deal collapses or hits a snag and Pritzker is elected in November, he could run into ethical conflicts once he takes office in January. That’s because governors have the authority to appoint members to the state Gaming Board that regulates casinos, and he’d inevitably be drawn into perennial discussions at the statehouse about gambling expansion that could impact his investment.

Such a scenario would make Pritzker the first known Illinois governor to hold an interest in a state casino license. […]

“If elected, JB will divest from any asset he personally owns that does business with the state of Illinois or would receive any kind of government benefit from the state,” [Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen] wrote.

This is a topic I hadn’t really given much thought to over the months. If elected, he’ll appoint Gaming Board members and will undoubtedly have to deal with the gaming issue.

So he’s wise to get rid of that ownership interest, even if it is only 1 percent of the Elgin casino (and his $3.27 million “windfall” is less than a thousandth of his reported net worth). If the sale hits a snag, he’ll have to come up with a new strategy to avoid any appearance of conflict or an actual conflict.

Your thoughts on this?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - @misterjayem - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 11:52 am:

    Your thoughts on this?

    He should take that measly $3.27 million to the track and see if he can parlay it into some real money.

    – MrJM


  2. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 11:57 am:

    ===This is a topic I hadn’t really given much thought to over the months.===

    For about 3 seconds I thought this was a Pritzker quote.

    Things I’ve learned about the Pritzker campaign;

    The pre-running preparation and oppo research was a failure.

    There is a lacking of what things mean in the run-up (toilets, state income taxes, holdings regulated by state agencies)

    The picture, here, in this framing, is a rich guy wanting to be governor with limited or tunneled vision what a pre-run prep should look like in fundamentals.

    A head scratcher to say the least.


  3. - 47th Ward - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:03 pm:

    ===Such a scenario would make Pritzker the first known Illinois governor to hold an interest in a state casino license.===

    IIRC, Governor Otto Kerner owned a piece of some Illinois racetracks. At least in this case, we know about Pritzker’s ownership BEFORE we get to vote for him.

    Would that all candidates for major office divest themselves of potential conflicts as Pritzker is doing. Trump is likely in violation of the Emoluments Clause but Congressional Republicans are too busy booking meetings at Trump properties to notice.


  4. - Not a Billionaire - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    I would take it off his hands if the deal flops or…he could just donate it…


  5. - Henry Francis - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:05 pm:

    All he has to do is put it in a “blind trust” and keep it off the back porch of the governor’s mansion and he should be fine. Right?


  6. - Back to the Future - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:07 pm:

    I am sure Pritzker got the license through an open
    competitive process and this wasn’t yet another example of
    Insiders feasting on taxpayers.
    Electing Pritzker is not the answer to the corruption problems that has existed in Illinois for a long long time.
    Rauner is a terrible alternative. Maybe a third party candidate more in the mainstream than Rauner or Pritizker will show to give voters a choice.


  7. - Cocoa Dave - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    I’d ask Pritzker in addition to his anticipated $3.27 million ownership interest payment, how much total in dividend payments has he received over the years? I’d bet it ain’t chump change.


  8. - Bag It Up - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    For JB, the real appeal of owning a stake in a casino is unlimited access to the all you can eat buffett.


  9. - Perrid - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:20 pm:

    Wonder what alternatives he has to divest if this deal doesn’t go through. I assume selling interest in a casino is harder than selling stocks, but I really have no idea.


  10. - Montrose - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    Bag it Up - Really? What are you, a fifth grader?


  11. - Cocoa Dave - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    He could donate his interest to charity and take a tax deduction. Trust me he has already made many times his original investment off of his ownership interest. He’s probably made multiples of the $3.27 million. At one time that casino was practically minting money.


  12. - Dupage Saint - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    So he divests yet his family still has interests. So how does this ever play out if Chicago gets a casino? That would hurt his family’s gambling interests. Of course odds of Chicago getting a casino without a Pritzker interest probably small. No harm no foul


  13. - Huh? - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    Is the 1% casino ownership held personally or part of Hyatt trusts? If part of Hyatt trusts, no big deal. If personally owned, should put into blind trust.


  14. - Concerned Dem - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 1:15 pm:

    Gift it to any of the number of social service orgs that Rauner stiffed over the last three years.


  15. - Anonymous - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 2:29 pm:

    I could be mistaken but pretty sure him being a 1% owner means he has nothing to say about the operations of the casino, including whether or when a sale is made. And since this is obviously not his deal, I’m sure he also had nothing to say about getting this license in the first place. Just saying.


  16. - Hamilton - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:34 pm:

    Give the 1% ownership to the Grand Victoria Foundation and count it as part of the 20% of profit required to give to the Foundation.


  17. - A guy - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 3:51 pm:

    Transfer it. It’s the cleanest, easiest way.


  18. - cc - Monday, Apr 23, 18 @ 11:44 pm:

    What 47th ward said. No capfax back then so always wondered how that all came about and was it broken laws or politics.


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