Bill Brady Republican, Illinois, Chicago discussed on The Opening Bell

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Gambling part of that. We're going to focus on in this segment this morning. Joining us his Jason grotto, a reporter at propublica who's been looking into the efforts not only to expand gambling statewide here in Chicago in dies done some significant reporting on it this year. Jason good morning. Welcome to the program. I guess the big question is, is we look at what has happened here will residents based on your reporting and what you have discovered in have been reporting on benefit from this is this going to be a good thing for Illinois it, too early to tell. I think it's much too early to tell you know, history is any guide. I think that the revenue projections or been put out there probably inflated that we worked on a series of stories, beginning early this year in January looking at the video gaming act, which is very similar move by the legislature. You know, a massive of gambling extension. Bill put out there at the last minute with very little research done behind it about the impact legislature set at the time this is back in two thousand nine video gambling would bring three hundred million dollars a year and right away, and of course, started borrowing state started borrowing right after the law passed, but it actually took a decade for the revenue to come through, and that hurt the state in the long run. And so, I think you know with this expansion right now, there's, there's a lot of questions about saturation of gambling positions and, and, and other issues that, that really hasn't shaken out. Yeah. And I know that the story focused on the taxes that are associated with some of this gang candling video gambling specifically, what general assembly finally decide with that, or they're gonna hike taxes. Not only other gambling, but the video gambling, as well. So for video gambling, which, you know prior to the to the law that passed on Sunday. Well, Pasa legislature on Sunday waiting. The governor's signature prior to that had some of the lowest tax rates in the country, we've found on video gambling terminals, under the new legislation the tax will go from thirty percent of the revenue to thirty three percent of the first year, then Surti four percent. That'll put a about in the middle of the pack or a number of states that have tax rates at fifty or above for video gambling machines. There were some tax breaks in the legislation casinos in large part because, you know, they're going to be opening six casinos. Excuse me, gambling and horse tracks and so the competition is going to get very very tight. So there were some tax lowering of taxes at the casino level for table games. I believe Jason one of the more concerning parts of your reporting on this has been the ties to the gaming industry. Specifically the video gambling industry again by lawmakers who decided some of this, obviously, this is Illinois. We're probably used to this, but there were a couple of key lawmakers who have their hand really deeply into this. Oh, yeah. That's right. The Senate minority leader of Bill Brady Republican for Bloomington. We found we receive some records that show that he was a person of significant influence and control with a company called midwest. Electron gaining. This is a video gambling operator that, that, that operates in central Illinois. And so, basically, what that means is that the Senator was actually receiving revenue directly from the machine. So he he signed contracts with locations. He's the bars and restaurants the machines, go into and then would get a percentage of those of the revenues from those machines. There was no disclosure about, what kind of percentage how many contracts that we're not able to see, but that was one of the issues. Now, the Senator when the legislation the current legislation came up for debate in the Senate for vote, he did recuse himself disclosed conflict. This is after. Stories came out, but he did not vote on, on the issue. Also, we found that democratic Senator Tom color tin distant. Cousin of the Senate president, John color. Ten he's from Villa Park. He was also a sales agent, again, this is someone who would go around to bars and restaurants and sign them up for video gambling. And then we found that the, the son of the assistant minority leader and Tonio move, ios, he's a democrat from Chicago also was making money off Ideo gambling. I should Brady and color tin, recused themselves did not actually presided over the vote and himself for the gambling expansion. What are the ethical rules on that, and the law? I mean, is it perfectly legal for these lawmakers to be involved as they are like this. And what does it say about perhaps future ethics rules that might cover some of this. Well, I think what it shows is the rules are pretty weak here in the state. In fact, the former inspector general for the state wrote, a scathing aditorial when she left pointing out some of the issues. And one of them is just there was no way to know from the from the disclosures that are currently out there that these lawmakers were potentially benefiting them or their families, some needs operations. And so, you know, as we expand gambling in the state, I think this is something that's going to become more of an issue. You know, they'll be opening a casino in Chicago, which will be a four thousand position, which is where, you know, basically the number of seats casino where you can bet just going to be a lot of money sloshing around, and, you know, we do have a long history in our state of being ethically. Challenged. And so, I think, you know, one of the key issues will be transparency. And unfortunately you know, in this eight hundred sixteen page Bill that passed on Sunday. There's a paragraph in there that actually makes the gaming board less transparent, and that's because they, they received special exemptions under the open meetings, act and significant because the board is already being twice by judges and lawsuits, violating the open meetings act. So I think this is going to be an ongoing issue with the expansion of gambling in the state, and so based on what you know, and based on your reporting here, what would be the suggestion if lawmakers if some lawmakers were out there, listening to this or reading, your reporting, what kinds of legislation would be necessary to keep all of this in check in improve the transparency. Could look at states that have significant amounts of gambling. And how they handle the regulatory side of things that it would be one place to look. I mean their gaming board hearings or their gaming commission hearings. Go on for hours. There's, there's a ton of transparency, they put a lot of information out to the public that, you know, that may wanna look over what, what they're doing the one of the issues here in Illinois. Is that for years? They'll annoy game aboard. It's been desperately underfunded when the video gaming act passed, but we found was that the legislature provided no additional funding to the game board. And it struggled mightily to, you know to, to regulate this sprawling industry, you know, one of the upsides of the new legislation that they do increase the, to budget for the gaming board and provide an additional twenty million dollars. It looks like to implement all of this gambling that's going on. They'll be doing sports gambling. They'll be oversee. Being parts of the race tracks now more casinos additional video gambling. And so, you know, is going to be enough money for them to, to do the kind of regulatory work that needs to be done into provide the transparency to the public that that is going to be necessary. I mean that's a question that's difficult to see right now. Well, it certainly sounds like you're gonna have plenty more avenues for further in future reporting on all of this. Oh, absolutely. I mean this is this is going to be a very big industry. And unfortunately you know the ranks of you know, my Ilkka journalists have been dwindling over time. And so it's gonna be a really heavy list, sort of those of us, who are left and just a lot watch over the next few years facing. We appreciate you being with us this morning..

Coming up next