Mayor Lori Lightfoot rightfully insisted that Chicago’s first-ever casino include minority investors, and for more than two decades Illinois law mandated minority ownership. Emil Jones Jr., the first African-American president of the Illinois Senate, was instrumental in bringing the state’s minority ownership requirement to fruition.

With a billion dollar casino coming to our city, we have an incredible opportunity to create multigenerational wealth for minority investors who live in communities that have been neglected for far too long.

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I know this first hand, having been an investor in Rivers Des Plaines Casino. In 2011, when I was an employee of Rush Street Gaming, owner and operator of Rivers Des Plaines, I was able to invest in the casino on the same terms as Rush Street. Years later, in a partial sale of the casino, I had the option of selling at exactly the same valuation as other investors, including institutional investors, or continuing to hold my investment in same conditions, just as Rush Street did. Simply put, I was treated like every other investor – and it changed my life for the better.

But that’s not how all the companies bidding for the Chicago casino apparently treat their minority investors. According to Crain’s, Rhode Island-based hedge fund Bally’s Corp. offered lesser terms to minority investors, with Bally’s deal allowing them to diminish and potentially wipe out any profits the minority investors would make relative to the rest of the property. He did it in three ways.

First, Bally’s could force minority investors to sell their investment back to the company six years after the casino opens. A minority investor would have no choice but to sell, even if they wanted to keep their investment.

Second, Bally’s deal would not allow its minority investors to realize the full market value of their investment. Bally’s agreement stipulates that when it has the right to buy out minority investors, the valuation of minority investors is capped at eight times the casino’s annual profits, even though industry standards are 11 to 12 times the benefits for a property like this.

Finally, Bally’s is offering to finance minority investor participation at a predatory interest rate of 11%, compounded quarterly if it is not kept informed of cash payments. It’s entirely possible that a minority investor’s equity investment could be wiped out and Bally might be able to buy it back for nothing.

For me, it’s three knocks and you’re out. If the terms are as reported, Bally’s has already shown who they are; they view minority investors as second-class citizens. Therefore, Bally’s should be disqualified from operating Chicago’s premier casino.

Tanyala Rodgers-Coe, Bronzeville

The CPS and its dysfunction

Another example of Chicago public school dysfunction: An entire high school shuts down when juniors take the school-required SAT exam. Freshmen, sophomores and seniors (75% of the school) are staying home from school as a class is taking a three-hour exam. Then next week, when freshmen and sophomores take the PSAT, school is again canceled for juniors and seniors. Essentially, it’s two days of missed training because the CPS can’t juggle simple logistics.

Once upon a time there were educators who had a positive attitude and embraced rigor. Today we have an attitude of no power and embrace mediocrity. But remember, and just repeat, as CPS and the union say, “It’s all about the kids.

William Choslovsky, Sheffield Neighbors

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