Big payoff for billionaire in the Pritzker, Madigan, Dem budget

Only partisans are rejoicing that Illinois finally passed a budget on time and believe as the Democrats tell us that is a big win for us uns. If fact, they need to read about how the budget lagged a billionaire political contributor a big, big favor.

The complete story is in Crain's Chicago Business: "Billionaire wins, fantasy sports lose in Illinois gambling bill: The bill is a triumph for special-interest lobbying that yielded protections and opportunities for gaming investors like Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm."

The legislation is a triumph for rookie Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker -- and for special-interest lobbying that yielded protections and opportunities for current gaming investors such as Neil Bluhm, a billionaire Chicago real-estate mogul and major donor to Democrats. He benefited along with casino operators, racetracks, professional sports leagues, stadium owners and even the proprietors of truck stops, who will be allowed to add more slot machines.

At the same time, the measure promises to transform the fan experience at the city’s iconic sports venues, including the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

Also tucked into the 816-page bill is a provision that chilled good-government advocates in a state renowned for public corruption: It exempts some sessions of the Illinois Gaming Board, which will police six new casinos and the expansion of existing ones, from the Open Meetings Act.

Read the whole thing to get the flavor of this Bloomberg dispatch. That's just the start. As reporters, bond houses, think tanks and others dig into the budget's hundreds of pages, bet on more like this showing up.

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