The Illinois Gaming Board decided to prohibit video gambling operators from company sales. The operators can only sell their firms after approval from the state. The regulator suggested that it was an emergency step to curtail businesses from making a sale before they face punitive actions.
What happened in Illinois?
Tribune published a story in October detailing how Rick Heidner, the largest video gambling operators in the state, conducted business with a convict who engaged in illegal sports bookmaking. He was also working with a banker helping people in the organized crime sector participate in the Rosemont casino deal, which later failed.
The Gaming Board aimed to put a stopper to loopholes revealed by media reports and decided via a unanimous vote to avoid sales of video gambling companies. The existing regulation allows operators to sell their businesses without much regulatory work. The operators have three weeks to report the sale to the Board. Under new rules, the Board will be intimated before the sale, which will proceed only if the regulator approves it. According to their legal counsel Dan Gerber, the regulator’s integrity is compromised because of the “after-the-fact disclosures.”
How does the new measure protect?
According to Gerber, patching the loophole with immediate effect will prevent situations where the gambling terminal operators violate the board’s ethical requirements. By selling a business without notifying the board, operators will evade a display or punitive action while also turning a profit. He also cited illicit activities and questionable practices by the operators, as highlighted by recent news reports.
He referred to Heidner’s case where he won preliminary approval to build a Tinley Park horse track by the Illinois Racing Board. His proposal was expected to become a part of larger planned casino development on state-owned land. Gov. J.B. Pritzker halted the sale after Tribune’s story on his business relationships with people of dubious reputation.
The board members denied talking about Heidner citing state laws. However, they mentioned that none of the current members of the board were serving when his license was approved in 2012. His gambling license will expire in February upon which he will have to apply for a yearly renewal. His spokesman Randall Samborn clarified that he is not planning to sell his business.
Interestingly, Heidner spoke under oath at a Racing Board meeting that the investigators at the Gaming Board were aware of his business ties with a convict and a suspicious banker. He has not spoken at length about his talks with gaming officials yet.