Gaming Board Chair Fired
By Earl
The Chicago Tribune reports that Governor George Ryan has fired Gregory Jones, a former federal prosecutor, as the Chairman of the state Gaming Board after Jones opposed the development of the Emerald Casino in Rosemont, backers for which have been ordered by U.S. Judge Eugene Wedoff to file for bankruptcy.

Governor Ryan filled the vacant chair with Elzie Higginbottom, a casino developer who is said to have close ties with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Jr. The Governor has apparently rejected Jones’s request to remain in some capacity on the Gaming Board, which the Governor has quickly overhauled.

Jones in January, 2001 declared the Emerald organization “unfit to operate a casino, concluding that officials of the company repeatedly lied to regulators and sold shares to investors with alleged mob ties,” the Tribune reports. After ex-Chairman Jones took action to close Emerald, he got the wrath of several state legislators, who through designer legislation pushed the project on to Rosemont, outside Chicago. Governor Ryan was one of those to register frustration at the delay in the development of Emerald Casino.

A spokesperson for Governor Ryan said the decision to replace Jones “had nothing to do with the Emerald controversy.” In a carefully worded statement, Governor Ryan thanked ex-Chair Jones for his “excellent service and dedication...”

The bankruptcy application was to have been filed by the Emerald organization by September 10.

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