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Chicago Could Be Getting a New Casino Soon

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill which aims to make building a casino in Chicago more appealing to prospective developers. 

Senate Bill 516 (SB516) has now been passed into law and will reform current tax structures, amongst other things. 

SB516 had already cleared the hurdle of a special legislative session which was held back in May. 

The bill will form part of ‘Rebuild Illinois’. This intends to improve the state’s infrastructure, which Pritzker has referred to as “crumbling”. 

Making Chicago more attractive for casino development

With the bill now passed, a city tax of 33.3% for post-payout revenue has now been removed. Instead, a graduated tax structure on slot machines and table games will be implemented – as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

If a casino is built in Chicago, the city would gain 10.5% of revenue up to $25 million. This would then rise to 34.7% if that figure surpasses $1 billion. Comparatively, local governments elsewhere in Illinois get just 5% from their venues. Moreover, this needs to be distributed amongst other nearby localities in some cases.

Should a developer wish to build a casino in the US’ third-largest city, they will need to reach an agreement with its government. They will also need to apply for an operating license and have this approved by the Illinois Gaming Control Board. 

“Investing in the future” 

The ‘Rebuild Illinois’ initiative has been allocated a total of $45 billion. 

In an official Illinois.gov press release, Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot discussed a new casino in the city being given the green light. She praised those involved for their work in passing the law. 

“After decades of proposals and false-starts, the Chicago casino has now become law, paving the way for a transformative new funding source for Illinois’ infrastructure… in addition to serving as the impetus for a dynamic new entertainment district in our city,” she said.

Lightfoot thanked the likes of Pritzker and numerous House Representatives. She then concluded by saying that their “collaboration and partnership was instrumental in turning a financially viable Chicago casino into a reality and strengthening the fiscal path for our city’s future.”

Pritzker, meanwhile, spoke about the importance of improving the current infrastructure in the Land of Lincoln. His words related to the ‘Rebuild Illinois’ project were as follows. 

“Working with the General Assembly and Mayor Lightfoot, we accomplished what eluded so many others, and now this momentous legislation tackles key priorities for the State of Illinois – helping to ensure that Chicago can pay for first responders’ pensions and alleviate the burden on property taxpayers, along with investing in universities and hospitals throughout the state.

“Thousands of Illinoisans will be working on these projects, earning a good living that will support their families as we do the important work of rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and investing in the future.”

Meanwhile, State Representative Tim Butler said that “all regions of Illinois will benefit from the economic impact of an industry strengthened with this legislation”. 

Illinois gaming industry looking to get back to its feet 

Casinos in Illinois were allowed to reopen yesterday (July 1st). They had previously been shut for over three months, in a bid to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

While there isn’t yet a casino in Chicago, venues elsewhere have been able to expand their offerings in recent months. Seven operators have now been granted licenses to offer sports betting, which had actually gone live in March – just before the statewide lockdown. 

Illinois has reported 145,066 cases at the time of writing on July 2nd, with 7,152 deaths. 

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