The Illinois Gaming Board has included a rule-making item on the agenda regarding the recently released Phase II Sports Wagering rules for Thursday’s meeting.
The Phase II rules, released Thursday, were the latest step to get sports betting started in Illinois. Sports wagering became legal last June when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gaming expansion bill into law, which granted six new casino licenses and authorized up to four horse racing tracks to obtain casino licenses.
Operators can apply for temporary licenses with the release of Phase II, with the licensing fee $10 mm for casino operators. All told, there could be as many as 23 Master Sports Betting Licenses granted, which also includes sporting venues in addition to casinos and racinos. That total also includes three non-tethered mobile/online operators who must pay a $20 mm licensing fee.
Possible movement involving Heidner’s license
The other rulemaking item listed in the agenda is a proposed video gaming rule regarding inducements. This could potentially be linked to the IGB’s move to strip operator Rich Heidner of his license, with the board filing a complaint in December alleging two counts of violating the Video Gaming Act. The board claims Heidner, who owns Gold Rush Gaming, made an “illegal inducement” of $5 mm to a chain of betting parlors to prevent Laredo Hospitality Ventures from removing Gold Rush terminals at 44 locations in the state.
At issue between the board and Heidner is a Nov. 30, 2018, meeting in which the Gold Rush owner met with new Laredo owner Daniel Fischer and offered to bring together a group of owners to arrange a sale of Laredo for $5 mm more than Fischer had previously bought the company. Gold Rush had planned to respond to the IGB complaint within the 21-day administrative period provided and also had been pursuing discovery regarding dealings that included Fischer, previous Laredo owner Gary Leff, then-Laredo CEO Charity Jones, and Midwest owner Allyson Estey.
Heidner and Gold Rush Gaming were also named in a warrant federal agents used to search the offices of former State Senator Martin Sandoval looking for items “related to any official action taken in exchange for a benefit” and information regarding “any business owned or controlled by” the legislator when they raided his Springfield office in September.
Heidner had not been accused of any wrongdoing in the Sandoval investigation. The former state senator pled guilty to one count of federal program bribery and one count of filing a false tax return Tuesday in Chicago.
Will Fruchter address leak?
Though not specified in the agenda, IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter could address a story by WCIA in Springfield about the disclosure of confidential information regarding IGB licensees and applicants to three federal government entities by an employee of the board.
Fruchter was required by law to notify the four chamber leaders of state government in the case of any breach of privacy or disclosure of confidential information at the agency. According to the WCIA report, Fruchter stated the breach was discovered Jan. 3, and House Speaker Mike Madigan, Minority Leader Jim Durkin, then-Senate president Jim Cullerton, and Minority Leader Bill Bradley all received letters Jan. 10 stating the IGB is “investigating the leak and had placed the source on administrative leave pending further review.”