The Illinois Gaming Board is trying to correct an oversight that raised a few eyebrows. It was recently discovered that the IGB granted a gambling license to a man who previously admitted to having ties to the Chicago mob. Now, gaming officials are looking to reverse that decision.
The agency said it did not know critical information when Jeffrey Bertucci was approved for a state gaming license. Now, the IGB is planning to revoke that license. Bertucci’s Steak N Egger diner in Cicero offers video gaming terminals.
IGB says they didn’t realize Bertucci testified against mob’s “video poker king”
In 2019, the IGB granted a gaming license to Bertucci to legally operate video gaming terminals at his Steak N Egger diner. However, recent reporting revealed Bertucci’s mob ties. Now gaming officials are saying they were unaware that Bertucci testified in 2010 in a mob gambling case.
Bertucci admitted in federal court that he received VGTs for his Cicero diner from an amusement company. That company was linked to James Marcello, one of the most feared figures in the Chicago mob. Bertucci also testified that he got other gambling machines from a different operator, Casey Szaflarski, who federal authorities portrayed as the mob’s “video poker king.” Bertucci admitted he’d paid winnings to gamblers playing those devices. At the time, it was illegal to do that in Illinois. He also said he shared profits with Szaflarski.
PlayIllinois contacted Gaming Board spokeswoman Elizabeth Kaufman for a comment on the situation. She said, “The IGB does not comment on pending, potential or actual investigations.”
Now the board plans to revoke the license it gave Bertucci’s company.
According to a complaint issued by the IGB, Bertucci didn’t disclose details from his 2010 testimony at the federal criminal trial of reputed mobsters, including Szaflarski, when we applied for the gaming license.
“Bertucci misrepresented the extent and duration of his involvement with and use of coin-operated amusement devices for illegal gambling purposes,” according to the complaint. “Board Rule 310(a)(8) subjects a licensee to discipline for misrepresenting any information to the board. By engaging in the conduct described above, Bertucci’s company is subject to discipline.”
Kaufman told the Chicago Sun-Times that the board has the authority to discipline licensees under the various gaming statutes and board rules. That includes license revocation.
When did the IGB find out what happened?
The IGB approved Bertucci’s gaming license before Marcus Fruchter, the current gaming board administrator, or any other current board member, started their service. However, it became their responsibility to figure out why Bertucci was given a license in the first place.
The gaming board’s complaintsaid that while looking into Bertucci’s suitability for a gambling license, officials knew he was arrested in 2000 for keeping a gambling place after a server at an establishment he owned paid out a customer for play on a coin-operated amusement device. That type of gambling was illegal in Illinois in 2000.
The board said that based on Bertucci’s apparent honesty at that time, the agency granted him a gaming license in 2019. Officials said they only learned of his testimony at the mob trial this past May. That’s when the board decided to investigate the situation. However, Bertucci’s testimony in 2010 was reported by local news outlets.
Since 2019, six gambling devices at the Steak N Egger diner have taken in more than $4.8 million in bets. The establishment and the gaming company providing the machines split around $361,000 of that. During that time, the state received over $100,000 in taxes from that operation. The town of Cicero has accumulated nearly $18,000.
It is unclear when the board will meet to attempt to revoke Bertucci’s gaming license.