Following two days of intense debate, the Illinois House of Representatives reportedly passed a piece of legislation on Saturday that could see the Midwestern state license of up to six additional casinos including one for the metropolis of Chicago.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the casino language was inserted into a long-sought budget and capital improvements plan and managed to gain consent in the Democratic-controlled body courtesy of an 87-to-27 vote.
The newspaper reported that Illinois is currently home to ten riverboat casinos but that the just-passed legislation would expand this portfolio via the licensing of similar floating facilities for Lake County, which lies just to the north of Chicago, and the southern jurisdiction of Williamson County. It also detailed that the measure, which is now set to move on to a required vote before the Illinois State Senate, could moreover lead to the opening of a land-based casino in Chicago as well as riverboat counterparts in the communities of Danville, Rockford and the southern suburbs of the state’s largest city.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the wording of the legislation would allow the envisioned Chicago casino to be three times larger than its biggest rival courtesy of some 4,000 gaming positions but require its profits to be equally split between the state, the city and the venue’s private operator.
The measure, as written, would additionally allow land-based sportsbooks to open at casinos, horseracing tracks and larger sporting venues such as Chicago’s 61,000-seat Soldier Field while bringing online sportsbetting to ‘The Land of Lincoln’ courtesy of a trio of licenses individually priced at $20 million. The language of the legislation would furthermore authorize larger truck stops in the state to feature video gaming machines and see travelers at O’Hare International Airport and Midway International Airport permitted to enjoy slots.
The Mayor ofChicago, Lori Lightfoot, had initially opposed the idea of bringing a casino to her city but had changed her stance by the time of the vote following meetings with Illinois Governor Jay Pritzker and the Minority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives, Jim Durkin.
Lightfoot reportedly told the newspaper that she had altered her opinion regarding the legislation after coming to an agreement that any new sportsbetting licenses for Chicago would only be handed out ‘subject to local oversight and control’.
In an official statement, she said…
“These enhancements to the gaming proposal will allow us to maximize revenue capabilities of a new casino for the city of Chicago and ensure a good quality of life for our neighborhoods that might otherwise be affected.”
Pritzker has long been a supporter of casino expansion as a means of helping to fund his $40.6 billion spending plan as well as a $43 billion infrastructure package. The Democratic politician proclaimed that he and Lightfoot had ‘collaboratively worked’ with the sponsors of the legislation in order to ensure that it ‘will reflect that there are limits on both the number of and locations for sportsbetting venues.’
“Legalizing sportsbetting and expanding gaming will create jobs up and down the state from Rockford to Chicago to Walker’s Bluff, where communities hungry for employment will see 10,000 new jobs. After the [United States] Supreme Court legalized sportsbetting, I promised the people of Illinois that sports wagering would be a key element of my legislative agenda so that we are competitive with our neighboring states and can create more revenues for communities around Illinois.”