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SPRINGFIELD — One man is stopping all gaming expansion in Illinois, despite two laws approved by the General Assembly, say a growing number of lawmakers. And that man is Aaron Jaffee, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board.

By Benjamin Yount

SPRINGFIELD — One man is stopping all gaming expansion in Illinois, despite two laws approved by the General Assembly, say a growing number of lawmakers. And that man is Aaron Jaffee, chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, points to Jaffee’s criticism of legislation that would allow for five new casinos in the state and the slow roll-out of video gambling that was passed back in 2009.

“We have a gaming board that is clearly anti-gaming,” Link said.

Link added that Jaffee has used his position as the state’s top gambling regulator to take a personal stand.

“It’s his job to regulate Illinois gaming industry,” said Link. “It’s not his job to preach.”

But Jaffee said he is doing exactly what he’s supposed to be doing.

“I’m not pushing for anybody or anything. I’m trying to protect the public interest,” Jaffee said. “If lawmakers think they’re representing the public interest, I don’t think they know what they are talking about.”

Jaffee said the casino expansion plan does not include enough oversight of the new casinos, nor has the General Assembly included enough money to regulate 15 casinos and a slew of new slot machines at Illinois’ racetracks. Jaffe calls the plan “garbage.”

The relationship between Jaffee and lawmakers who supported the new gambling legislation, which has yet to be sent to Gov. Pat Quinn, is contentious at best.

State Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said he respects Jaffee, who served as a state lawmaker for 14 years and a Cook County judge for another 20. But Lang said Jaffee is over-stepping his bounds and speaking out of turn.

“He is neither, today, a legislator or is he a judge. He is a regulator,” said Lang. “And while regulators may have their own personal thoughts about legislation, it is not up to regulators to make comments about them.”

Lang said legislators, and potential casino managers, can’t help but wonder if after all that Jaffee has said, he can fairly implement laws he has criticized.

Jaffee said Lang, Link and other critics in the statehouse have questions about their own fairness to answer.

“I don’t know whether they’re acting as legislators, or they’re acting as lobbyists,” said Jaffee.

State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said that if Jaffee can’t keep his comments to himself and fairly regulate Illinois’ casinos, then he may have to leave the Gaming Board.

“The governor needs to be holding his people accountable,” said Syverson. “And if the director does not want to implement these programs, then maybe he needs to look at stepping down.”

Jaffee has been serving on the Gaming Board since 2005. He was appointed by by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and his term was expected to expire in 2007. Jaffe, and in fact the entire Gaming Board, are hold-overs who have not been reappointed by the governor.

The governor’s office Thursday would not say when, or if, there are plans to renominate Jaffee to the Gaming Board.

“We are in the process of reviewing candidates for appointment or reappointment to the board,” said Quinn spokeswoman Annie Thompson.

But Jaffee’s reappointment would land him in front of state senators like Link and Syverson.

Syverson said Jaffee would have some questions to answer.

“Clearly he has a bias about wanting to expand gaming in Illinois, and that’s really not his role,” said Syverson.

Lawmakers have not yet sent the casino expansion plan to the governor. Link said that could happen by October’s fall veto session.

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3 Comments

  1. Whether or not Governor Quinn

    Whether or not Governor Quinn signs the gaming expansion bill, gaming opportunities still exist for Illinois communities to generate revenue for the city.  One that has already passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support as part of the 2009 capital plan is the Video Gaming Act.  It will spur local revenue, jobs and investment.  Under the act, municipalities with video gaming will receive five percent tax revenue that would remain under local control to help fund projects from the Illinois Capital plan.  To learn more about the capital plan and its impact, please visit http://www.BacktoWorkIllinois.com

  2. Revenue yes but more poverty definitely

    Watch who buys Lottery tickets in the stores.  They don't look like they can afford it—they have big hopes but are only reducing the money they have to spend on things they really need.  Then who pay for bailing them out, welfare payments, food stamps, housing subsides? the taxpayers !

    The Lottery is bad enough but the various gambling proposals will only hurt those in the most need, esp. if machines are put in grocery, drug, bars, etc.  The politicians play to the lowest common denominator and avoid dealing with the problems caused—the tax payer can always pay the bill.  Surprise look at the states and cities budgets and see where those funds [won't] come from.

    Do the schools, churches and so called politicans teach what the odds are even for the Lottery.

    I don't watch the games but it appear that the only one with a chance of someone coming out ahead is the PowerBall.  With odds of 195,249,054 you would need a payoff of $195,249,054 to break even but then if someone else has the winning ticket the prize would have to be double.  Consider then that the prize is paid over many years [present value] or you get a greatly reduced present payment and a high tax rate and you are asking for a HUGE prize being needed.

    Or take its second price.  To win $200,000 you would have to spend $5,138,133.  For  any game take the odds and change them to dollars and that is how much you would have to spend to get the promised payoff, then reduce the payout by chances of multiple winners, annuity payments and taxes and that is the real–not advertised–payout.

    Everyone likes the 'dream' of big riches, but providing for your own care, your family, getting an education and many other things have a much larger 'reasonable' payoff.

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