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Debate On Online Gambling In Illinois

By: Joan Peppin, Saturday April 13th 2013
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Senator Terry Link is a leading proponent of online gambling in the American state of Illinois. He is working on a proposal to include online gambling legalization in a state land gambling expansion plan. Aaron Jaffe is the chairman of the state Gaming Board, who is dead against online gambling. The two have been bandying words through various media forums on their differing stands on this issue.

This week Link and Jaffe came face to face for a discussion on the online gambling proposal. Link began by saying, “We’ve waited a long time for this meeting to take place.” Then after a round of accusations and counter accusations some serious stuff was debated. Jaffe clarified that he is objecting to the land and online gambling expansion plan because the proposals do not include necessary ethical safeguards. Jaffe also wanted total regulatory authority for the Gaming Board. He said that written approval should be required from the board for even construction contracts and vendors in a Chicago land casino. Jaffe pointed out that Link’s present proposal has more than 550 pages, which makes it too cumbersome and difficult to assimilate. One specific issue that Jaffe contested was a provision that would remove the current members of the Gaming Board. He argued that it was absurd to want to change the entire board, especially since it has become the best Gaming Board in the nation under his leadership.

Jaffe found support in Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Quinn has twice vetoed major gambling expansion bills the Illinois legislators have sent to him, citing ethical concerns. Quinn also spoke against including online gambling legalization in the proposal and commended the Gaming Board for doing a good job. Senate President John Cullerton and others tried to diffuse the standoff so that some middle ground could be found. At the end of the discussion, Senator Link said that he would include online gambling in his proposed legislation but would remove the provision that allowed for firing the members of the Gaming Board.

Meanwhile investors continue to be bullish on federally regulated national online gambling. The investment analyst firm Morgan Stanley released a study on the land casino Boyd Gaming, in which it stated that by 2020 online gambling in America will be at least as big a business as real-world gambling centers of Las Vegas and Atlantic City combined. Talking numbers, the report put the legal US online gaming market to be about $670 million in 2014, increasing to $9.3 billion in 2020. These figures have to be seen in the context of the estimated market at $5.3 billion before online gambling was banned in late 2006.

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