* David Heinzmann at the Tribune…
Less than a week after the Illinois Gaming Board attempted to stop video gambling operators from selling their businesses without state approval, a panel of lawmakers in Springfield blocked the move.
The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted 10-0 against the Gaming Board on Tuesday, rejecting the gambling regulators’ rationale for making the rule change on an emergency basis.
Gaming Board staff viewed their measure as an emergency step in response to the Tribune’s revelations last month about Rick Heidner, whose Gold Rush Gaming is one of the state’s largest operators. Regulators argued they needed to close a loophole in state law that allows video gambling operators to sell their businesses without Gaming Board approval. The status quo would allow a business owner facing a misconduct investigation to sell the business at a profit without facing state disciplinary action.
Republican Rep. Keith Wheeler of Oswego, the committee co-chairman, introduced the motion to vote on the issue Tuesday. He said he agrees that the state should close the loophole but said committee members are frustrated because they believe the Gaming Board is using the emergency rule-making process inappropriately.
There’s more, so go read the rest. The JCAR members may be right on the law, but that’s some pretty dumb politics. And if somebody under federal suspicion sells their video gaming business before this is all worked out, some fingers are gonna be pointed right at the committee.
* One caveat, however. Legislators and others are up in arms about how the Gaming Board has waited so long to write a rule allowing video gaming expansion at existing facilities. The gaming expansion law passed last spring upped the number from five machines to six and increased the tax by 3 percentage points. The state is collecting the higher tax rate, but no machines can be added until the Gaming Board acts. This should’ve been done months ago. The state is missing out on revenues.