Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Weis Says No to Gambling

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jody Weis, the former Chicago police superintendent whom mayor Rahm Emanuel didn’t want to keep around, is now speaking out against Emanuel’s first legislative victory: the still-unsigned gambling expansion bill.

    Since leaving the police department, Weis has become deputy director of the Chicago Crime Commission, an anti-Outfit watchdog. On Wednesday, the commission issued a report claiming that the gambling bill contains loopholes that will allow gangsters and politically-connected hacks to get control of slot machines in Illinois.

    The bill creates two new regulatory bodies -- the Chicago Casino Development Authority and the Illinois State Fairgrounds Racetrack Authority -- which would take control of the new Chicago casino and the Downstate racetrack slots away from the Illinois Gaming Board.

    Commission Executive Vice President Art Bilek analyzed the bill:

    To date, the Crime Syndicate has been kept out of legal gambling in Illinois through the unflinching efforts of the current Illinois Gaming Board…This move would essentially put the Chicago casino and the Springfield racino in untested and, most likely, politically connected hands. Moreover, the legislation sows the seeds for conflict of interest and political corruption at the Illinois Gaming Board by requiring that the appointment of the agency’s executive director be by the governor and not the Gaming Board, as is currently the case, and further requiring the advise and consent of the Illinois Senate...These regulatory shortcomings coupled with the almost unbelievable number of new gambling activities provided by the bill will enable the always ingenious and persistent Crime Syndicate to seek out schemes to enrich itself by getting into the state's legal gambling business.

    The bill was also condemned by two prominent clergymen, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church and Bishop Ed Peecher of New Heritage Cathedral. Both predicted that slots would be irresistible to poor people looking for easy money.

    “I have significant concern that entire families will be left penniless because Mom or Dad will be spending their entire paycheck at the casinos,” Peecher said.

    The bill passed in May, but Quinn has yet to sign it. Indications are, he doesn’t want to sign it. Thanks to Weis, he now has another reason to say no to Mayor Emanuel.