Please see the following COAL Statement. Based on the blatant insult to the Black community and outstanding questions, COAL feels that the General Assembly must vote no to SB1739, a gaming bill that only benefits a select few while ignoring the needs of the many.
We encourage comments from the Community on the COAL website.
COAL Board of Directors
COAL OPPOSES SB1739; ILLINOIS’ LATEST VERSION OF A NEW GAMING BILL
CHICAGO, Illinois, May 10, 2013 –
Dear Members of the General Assembly:
We, the Coalition of African American Leaders (COAL), are writing to inform you of our opposition to the gaming bill, SB1739. We oppose this bill because we believe the bill, as drafted, will hurt our communities, small businesses and citizens.
Expansion of gaming always promises jobs, revenue opportunities and economic development. And yet, this only happens when gaming expansion is responsible and reasonable in scope.
Instead, this bill as drafted provides subsidies to racetrack owners, while leaving at-risk communities, nonprofits and schools without the resources they need. This legislation won’t improve our communities – this bill will not translate into additional funding for critical areas of concern – rather it will simply shift monies around.In an article in the Sun-times (May 3, 2013), in which Illinois Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe rips this latest manifestation of a gaming bill, the article states, “The plan would put $13 million annually into a fund for “depressed communities”; $6.5 million annually to the “Latino Community Economic Development Fund”; $6.25 million annually to soil and water conservation districts, and $75,000 annually to the Chicago Botanic Garden, among other things. ” Jaffe knocks this as the bill being ‘a Christmas tree bill’.
COAL’s position is more straightforward; where are the funds targeted specifically for economic development in the Black community. When all is said and done, as recent legislative history has shown us, the African American community will not benefit from the expansion of wealth and resources generated by all of our tax dollars. This is a joke.
The problems with SB1739 do not end with this insult to the Black community, we question the following:
- As reported in Chicago Crain’s, Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent speeches repeatedly tie together three issues facing Illinois: the budget, pension funding and gambling. Lost in the analysis of these problems is that during the last 22 years Illinois could have collected $10 billion to $53 billion from gambling interests, according to the United States International Gambling Report – a sum that probably would make pensions solvent today. States that rejected Illinois’ gambling model 20 years ago have little gambling today and solid pensions, and even budget surpluses. SB1739 would give away another $5 billion to $10 billion in potential tax revenue to gambling owners. Illinois casino licenses worth a fair market value of $500 million to $1 billion each would be practically given away in this gambling expansion bill for only $100,000 each. Should more of the potential gambling revenues go to the State and less to the gambling owners in order to better address the State’s shortfall?
- Building new casinos in Danville, Lake County, Rockford and Chicago when it has been reported that existing gaming revenues are on the decline. Does this bill cannibalize the casino business? Are projected revenues realistic? Will projected revenues even be realized?
- There is a provision for a new city casino authority, which will share regulatory responsibility with the Illinois Gaming Board for a casino built in Chicago. The Tribune states, “We can’t find another example of this goofy regulatory framework anywhere on Earth. Remedy: Any expansion bill should include this brief clause: “Because of its excellent record of intercepting organized crime attempts to infiltrate casinos, the Gaming Board alone will regulate any Chicago casino, just as it now regulates every other casino in Illinois – period.” Should residents be wary of a bill that doesn’t clearly specify how two regulatory bodies will inter-relate and operate? Does this represent sound governance and transparency or does SB1739 simply add a number of positions to be filled via patronage and cronyism?
- SB1739 contains the following duties for the newly formed Chicago Casino Development Authority. Duties of the Authority: It shall be the duty of the Authority, as an owners licensee under the Illinois Gambling Act, to promote and maintain a casino in the City. The Authority shall own, acquire, construct, lease, equip, and maintain grounds, buildings, and facilities for that purpose. With the City’s track record on contracts for Black companies across all of these areas the Authority will be responsible for, how will we ensure that companies of color receive their fair share of the potential construction, maintenance, commodities and professional services contracts? Should this be addressed in SB1739?
- SB1739 stipulates that the Mayor of Chicago will name all members to the Chicago Casino Development Authority. Will this Authority adequately reflect the make-up of Chicago’s communities and truly represent the interests of all of Chicago’s residents?
- Our understanding is that SB1739 calls for the firing of every member of the Gaming Board. The question here is simple: Why?
Based on the blatant insult to the Black community and outstanding questions, COAL feels that the General Assembly must vote no to a bill that only benefits a select few while ignoring the needs of the many.
Further, no State Representative within the Black Caucus should support this bill in its current form.
The General Assembly has been grappling with important fiscal decisions over the past several years. You have had to make very difficult decisions, but we can and must do better than SB1739. Say no to this irresponsible and in-equitable proposal and instead focus on the issues that will create jobs, improve the state’s finances, address the pension crisis and provide a better future for our businesses and residents.
Again, we urge you to vote “NO” on SB1739!
Board of Directors
Coalition of African American Leaders
|Contact: Clarence N. Wood, President|
Coalition of African American Leaders (COAL)
Craig K. Wimberly, Chair
COAL – Public Policy
Click here for a copy of the press release.