The Gambling Men and Woman of McHenry County

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

McHenry County has a vibrant history of gambling.

Sheriff Ed Dowd seized the slot machines in Algonquin in a very public raid while I was in college in the early 1960’s. When they were destroyed, there was no accounting for the money they held.

One summer in the mid-1060’s, the Illinois Crime Commission held hearings in the then-county board room, which was located on the big room on the eastern part of what is now Woodstock City Hall.

My mother and I were fascinated by the map of Crystal Lake showing the places people could place bets and how the bookies rented space on the second floor of the Pinemoor on the street behind the Congregational Church and Catholic Churches.

In fact, it was the arrest of Pinemoor owner Harry Schnell, our Republican precinct committeeman, for being the keeper of a gaming house that spurred my father to run for precinct committeeman against him. Dad won in 1966, the same year I became McHenry County Treasurer.

Harry was quite a likable guy and made good thin pizza. One can still buy it at the Pinemoor in the “V” of the Crystal Lake Plaza.

And then there was the guy who repaired the slot machines. His last name was Sam Smunk, I believe. Somehow my father met him. He was standing in the old driveway when I stopped by. That’s how I met him. He told Dad he delivered $1,000 a week to both judges in McHenry County.

$1,000 a week.

Pretty big money, wouldn’t you say?

And, of course, there is the story I’ve told of how the gangland victims got patched up on the top floor of the old county poor house. It’s now called Valley Hi.

So, McHenry County has a vibrant history of corruption.

More recently, during the 1990’a, the McHenry County Board voted to support a floating casino in the Chain of Lakes.

For a cut of the take.

That was all on the up and up, of course.

So, maybe people shouldn’t be surprised that McHenry County legislators voted to expansively gambling…massively.

This would be for legal gambling, of course, not illegal gambling.

So, let’s follow the voting history of the gambling expansion bill, House Bill 2651.

State Representative Mike Tryon has said he favored the capital construction bill. He never made a secret of it.

And, the only financing package on the table was more gambling.

So, it didn’t surprise me when he voted for the gambling expansion shell bill. on May 20th. (A “shell” bill is one a title and usually nothing else. Without content, it does nothing.)

The other state representative representing McHenry County, Mark Beaubien, voted in favor of the shell bill, too. He is on House Minority Leader Tom Cross’s leadership team and Cross has been favorable to expanding gambling.

State Rep. Jack Franks,voted against House Bill 2651 in its benign form.

House Bill 2651 passed 80-29-1 on May 20th.

I never heard State Senators Pam Althoff or Bill Peterson talk about the subject, but on May 31st, the senate passed the bill 32-18-5.

This was not a shell bill.

How did our two Republican state senators vote?

Pam Althoff – Yes

Bill Peterson – Yes

What did they vote for?

Three new casinos, slot machines at racetracks. Stuff like that.

The crunch vote came in the Illinois House on what is called “concurrence.” The changes made by the senate get an up or down vote.

But, there wasn’t such a vote.

Instead there was a motion to table the senate amendments.

Here is how McHenry County’s three state representatives voted on a motion to kill the legislation:

Mike Tryon – No

Jack Franks – Yes

Mark Beaubien – No

The bill bill was tabled on a vote of 59-52 with McHenry County’s two GOP state representatives voting to keep it alive.

So, it appears there is three “gambling men” and one “gambling woman.”

Those representing McHenry County supporting gambling expansion:

Pam Althoff, Bill Peterson, Mark Beaubien and Mike Tryon.

Democrat Jack Franks seems to be the only anti-gambling vote representing McHenry County.

When the riverboat casino bill first passed, the House had not one Republican vote for it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *