Gaming waives bye-bye to Blagojevich

The Illinois casino industry won’t miss former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

During his six-year tenure as governor, which ended yesterday when the Illinois State Senate removed him from office, Blagojevich was never considered a friend of the casino industry.

In December, Blagojevich signed legislation requiring four of the state’s riverboat casinos to pay a percentage of their adjusted gross revenue to Illinois racetracks. The law was created to help the horse racing industry recoup business that was lost to the casinos.

His appointments to the Illinois Gaming Board in 2005 caused some concern among industry members. Two of the individuals were opponents of legalized gaming who had never been to a riverboat casino. One of the appointees supported a failed legislative proposal that could have ended casino gambling in the state.

Because Blagojevich took months to make the appointments, the Illinois Gaming Board didn’t have a quorum in early 2005 and couldn’t act on various issues.

One matter that was delayed was MGM Mirage’s $7.9 billion buyout of the Mandalay Resort Group. Mandalay was a 50 percent owner of a riverboat casino in Elgin, Ill., about 40 miles northwest of Chicago.

MGM Mirage had the riverboat’s ownership placed into an escrow trust until the Illinois regulators could rule on the matter. The buyout was finalized by April 2005.

Illinois currently has nine riverboat casinos with a 10th recently approved. There is no analysis on how new Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn views the gaming industry.

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