Why did the Illinois Gaming Board trash the memo that placed Isle of Capri Inc. (ISLE) last among three bidders seeking Illinois’ 10th riverboat gaming license?
That’s the question being asked by Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the state’s attorney general, Lisa Madigan. Both had indicated that ISLE’s plan to utilize the Rosemont site being vacated by bankrupt Emerald Casino Inc., a company that had been identified with ties to the underworld, was unacceptable.
Yet, after reviewing the bids of ISLE, Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) for a location in Waukegan, and Midwest Gaming Entertainment, a group of investors who planned a facility in Des Plaines, the gaming regulators chose ISLE.
The board’s staff, however, had chosen the Des Plaines site as the most favorable of the three competing bidders while the Harrah’s site was second. And, in placing ISLE last among the three, the staff memo suggested that it had concerns about possible mob ties involving Rosemont.
There was a major negative reaction following the board’s announcement. The governor said he wanted the board to explain its decision through a former federal prosecutor whom he named as head of an investigating body.
In explaining its choice, the board said they chose ISLE because the Rosemont site was near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and as such would provide an abundance of hotels and restaurants for casino customers. Also, they said, they wanted to avoid a lawsuit involving the $45 million that the community of Rosemont spent to build a parking garage for the riverboat.
Upset by the choice, a major legislator announced that if the Rosemont choice is upheld, he planned to file legislation that would establish two additional gaming licenses to be located in northern and southern Chicago.