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Illinois super-sleuth packs it in

Aug 28, 2001 4:48 AM

An administrator for the Illinois Gaming Board, who was responsible for the denial of a gaming license for Emerald Casino Inc. in Rosemont, Ill., will resign his post next month, leaving in doubt the state’s 10th riverboat license.

Sergio Acosta, who left his post with the U.S. attorney’s office to assist the gaming regulators with investigations of current and former license holders, said he plans to return to crime fighting with the U.S. attorney’s office.

Since it was Acosta who developed a case against Emerald questions immediately arose, following his resignation announcement, whether the members of the board would pursue their efforts to halt any attempts by Emerald to sell their license to well-known operators such as MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MIR) or Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE). A suggestion that MGM MIRAGE had planned to take an offer for Emerald to regulators was described as dead on arrival.

Some observers suggested the future of a riverboat in Rosemont would depend a great deal on Costa’s replacement, a selection that will be made by Gov. George Ryan. A spokesman said Gov. Ryan attempted to have Acosta stay on with the board. Now, he said, the governor is preparing a list of potential replacements.

Gov. Ryan has been seen in the past as a supporter of a riverboat in Rosemont and even signed the legislation in 1999 that seemed to set the stage for Emerald to establish a gaming operation in Rosemont, just a stone’s throw from O’Hare Airport.

Despite his short tenure as the gaming board’s administrator, Acosta also played a pivotal role in the denial of a permanent license for Jack Binion’s Horseshoe Gaming.