JOLIET – Former state Sen. Thomas Dunn, credited with bringing two casino licenses to Joliet, has been named to the Illinois Gaming Board.
Dunn, 72, a Democrat from Joliet, said the appointment came as a surprise.
"It came out of left field for me," Dunn said Monday.
Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday named Dunn among several state appointees. He also named Springfield attorney Don Tracy, 54, to replace longtime Gaming Board Chairman Aaron Jaffe.
Dunn was a state senator from Joliet when the original casino legislation was created in 1990 to bring riverboat gaming to Illinois river towns that suffered during the Rust Belt recession. He was instrumental in pushing legislation that created two local gaming licenses, leading to Joliet being the only Illinois city with two casinos.
He was state senator from 1972 to 1997. In 1997, Dunn was appointed as associate judge in Will County and served until 2005.
A press release from the governor's office says Dunn "brings a different perspective to the board."
Asked if he had been interested in serving on the gaming board, Dunn said, "I really wasn't interested until the phone rang, and the governor's office reached out to me and asked if I was interested. I thought for half a minute, and said, 'Yes, I am.'"
Dunn said he plans to explore the impact of video gambling on casinos.
"I want to delve into that more," he said. "The problem is that it's caused people in the casinos to be laid off, and that was not the original intent."
Joliet Mayor Thomas Giarrante said he believed Dunn's appointment to the Gaming Board will be good for Joliet.
"Tom was very instrumental in getting two casinos for Joliet, and we are very indebted to him for that," Giarrante said.
He also said Dunn would be sympathetic to efforts to protect Joliet from casino expansion. The city has fought efforts to add a casino in the south suburbs, contending it would drain business from Joliet casinos.
"I am very confident that he probably will not support expansion," Giarrante said. "He understands what the casinos are going through."