Catching up with Coffey


Organized retail theft an increasing threat to Illinois bricks-and-mortar retailers. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates the cost of Illinois retail theft at more than $4 billion per year. The initial figure of $2 billion, representing the value of the goods directly lost to theft, must be more than doubled to cover the ancillary costs of retail shrinkage. These include the higher operating costs required to pay workers to expose themselves to a high-crime environment, insurance costs related to high-theft environments, maintenance costs to operate video and other security systems, and many other related expenses.

Rob Karr of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) agrees with observers who are seeing growing ‘flash mob’ retail theft activity. Many Illinoisans are now familiar with video scenes of insta-gatherings which overwhelm a store. Karr reports that IRMA’s investigation has found that many of these thefts are organized behind the scenes by criminal gangs. The flash-mob theft not only overwhelms store personnel, but enables the gathering of a large quantity of desirable goods. The goods can be shipped by fast freight to a faraway customer who does not ask too many questions. International freight globalization is putting old-fashioned theft ‘fences’ into the shade. IRMA’s Karr spoke to WTTW-TV on Monday, August 21.

“Retail Theft in Springfield is becoming a major concern for our residents and they feel less safe walking into a retail establishment,” said Rep. Coffey. ” We need to send criminals a strong message that they will be arrested and prosecuted for retail theft. It’s clear as day the “soft on crime” policies are creating panic within our communities and we need to reinforce our laws.”


Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort opens near Carterville. The new casino license was granted to provide gaming and entertainment experiences to a market that will compete with casino operations in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and adjacent Show-Me State locations. The Walker’s Bluff license was granted pursuant to the gaming expansion bill enacted in June 2019 by the Illinois General Assembly. First day of operation was Friday, August 25.

The Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort will center on a 113-room hotel, 650 slot machines and electronic gaming devices, 14 table games, and a sports lounge. As a sports-betting state, Illinois allows people to watch and bet on sporting events as they are taking place. A show lounge will offer opportunities for local and regional entertainment events.

First-ever legal gambling casino in city of Chicago nears opening. The Bally’s-branded facility, which will offer slot machines and table games, is classified as a “temporary” facility pending the construction of a massive nearby hospitality complex. Operators of the temporary Chicago casino, located in the historic Medinah Temple at Wabash and Ohio Streets on Chicago’s Near North Side, say their current target is to open on Saturday, September 9.

Prior to opening, Illinois regulatory officials connected with the Illinois Gaming Board will conduct a final inspection of the much-anticipated property. The General Assembly enacted legislation in 2019 to legalize closely-regulated gambling activity in the city of Chicago, and development work commenced soon after enactment of the law. The Medinah casino floor will contain about 750 electronic gaming positions, and will offer 50 table game experiences. As the Medinah floor opens, Bally’s will turn increasing attention to its development project adjacent to the North Branch of the Chicago River. A former newspaper printing-plant industrial site will be transformed, starting in 2024. Bally’s Chicago has announced plans to redevelop the substantial site into a Las Vegas-style nightspot complex, theater cluster and mega-casino.


July 2023 unemployment figures for Illinois. The unemployment figures for July reflected overall economic recovery from the job-destroying effects of the 2020 pandemic and economic slowdown, with Illinois employers supporting more than 6,153,000 nonfarm Illinois payroll jobs.

This was up 11,200 jobs from June 2023, and reflected an increase of approximately 89,700 jobs from the number supported one year earlier.

However, Illinois’ economic and job-creating performance continued to lag behind that of the U.S. as a whole. Figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate a nationwide unemployment rate of 3.5% in July 2023. The Illinois July 2023 figure of 4.5% was 100 basis points behind the nationwide figure. Neighboring states also posted numbers better than Illinois. The comparable jobless rate in Indiana was 3.3%; unemployment was counted at 2.7% in Iowa and in Missouri; the same number was 2.6% in Wisconsin, reflecting an economic status that was 190 basis points better in the Badger State than in Illinois.

Within Illinois, July 2023 unemployment was highest in zones oriented towards traditional manufacturing activities. The benchmark jobless rates for July were 6.6% in Danville, 6.9% in Decatur, and 6.8% in Rockford.

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