By Marcy Kreiter
The Illinois Gaming Board Tuesday voted against granting a license for Emerald Casino's plan to build a more than $100 million gambling barge in Rosemont, Ill.
Following several hours of hearings and a session behind closed doors, the board voted 4-1 against the plan citing what members called some of the principals' "insidious ties to organized crime."
An appeal is expected.
Board investigators had compiled a nearly 100-page report on Rosemont mayor Don Stephens and Emerald's owners. The report alluded to Stephens' alleged associations with organized crime figures -- something Stephens has repeatedly denied. Stephens would not have had an ownership stake in the casino.
Board administrator Sergio Acosta, who recommended against granting the license, alleged Emerald officials Donald and Kevin Flynn had been less than truthful with the board's investigators.
The board also denied Emerald attorney Mike Ficaro time to respond to the charges, some of which he said he had not heard until 90 minutes before Tuesday's hearing.
This is not the first time Emerald had sought an Illinois gaming license. Emerald operated the Silver Eagle gambling boat in East Dubuque but was stripped of its license in 1997.
Tuesday's board decision followed action by Cook County Judge Robert Boharic last week removing a major legal roadblock to the project.
The judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Lake County investors challenging the constitutionality of the 1999 gaming law that opened the way for the Rosemont project, which had been expected to be the state's biggest gambling money-maker. Boharic concluded the Lake County group had hoped to build a casino in Fox Lake instead and lacked standing to file suit.