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Illinois auctioning licenses?

Jul 23, 2002 6:38 AM

Illinois Atty. Gen. Jim Ryan, who hopes to be the state’s next governor, has a plan to make hay, or money, while the sun shines on the Illinois riverboat licensing policy.

Last week, Ryan suggested that not only should there be an auction conducted to determine who should receive the state’s 10th and final license but that the state should also propose a system whereby all 10 licenses would be auctioned periodically.

"I think there ought to be at some point an auction of these licenses," Ryan said in a statement involving the license status. "Since this is basically a state-created monopoly, I don’t think someone should have it in perpetuity."

Whoa, said an official of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association. How unfair would it be, he said, to tell riverboat operators who have complied with all the state’s rules that they may lose their licenses anyway. "You’re talking about changing the rules after the game’s started," he said, adding, "These people have invested millions of dollars in their operations."

Ryan isn’t the only one thinking the state’s gaming licenses should be put up for auction, periodically. State Sen. Patrick O’Malley, who like Ryan is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, filed a bill in the last session of the legislature that would require period license auctions.

Saying that the auction suggestion needs to be fleshed out, Ryan said he would make available a more detailed plan later in the campaign.

The Democratic candidate for governor issued a statement through his aide that he would consider auctioning gaming licenses but also would seek other ways to get more money for the state from its casinos.