In January, reports surfaced that lawmakers in Illinois were going to consider a casino gambling expansion that would raise much-needed revenues for the state. Lawmakers are struggling to find a way to create revenues as the state is strapped for cash due to not having a spending plan in place for two years. A proposal is currently on the table that would create six gaming venues in the state as well as expand the industry in other areas such as slots installed at local horse race tracks.
A ‘grand bargain’ has been created by lawmakers with the gambling expansion part of the plan to end the two-year deadlock of the yearly spending plan, according to a report at qconline.com. The grand bargain did fail to be approved last week, but the plan for the casinos was supported by the Senate. Even though the Senate provided approval, the legislation will not be able to move forward unless is it part of several other bills in the grand bargain.
The gambling legislation, known as SB7, would authorize licensing in Chicago with undetermined locations in Lake County as well as the south suburbs of Rockford, Danville and Williamson County. The legislation would mark the very first time a casino would have the ability to be on land, ending the riverboat gambling era.
In the beginning, Chicago was not considered for casino gaming as there was the horse racing industry to contend with and competition could arise. However, supporters feel that a casino in Chicago would help to increase tourism and keep gamblers in the state instead of seeing them head to Indiana for wagering.
The measure, sponsored by Senator Terry Link, would create close to $1 billion for the state in setup fees as a licensing fee would be required of $100,000 initially and $30,000 paid per gambling position. The new gaming venues would also create construction jobs and permanent positions at the casinos which would have a trickle-down effect in the local communities.
Additional changes are included in legislation so that the existing casinos will be able to adjust as new gaming venues are added. A tax rate would be provided at as low as 16% on table games and 20% on slot machines, which is much lower than the 50% that the most lucrative riverboat gaming venues are subject to paying.
The bill also allows slot machines to be added to the four horse racing tracks in the state and for existing gaming venues to add up to 400 seats. Airports in Chicago would be allowed to install gaming machines at terminals.