Chicago is still struggling to approve the bill that will see the city erect a new casino. During the most recent session, legislators of the state passed various bills surrounding ethics, pensions, and marijuana. Once again however, they did not grant the fix for the casino the city so desperately wants.
This lack of movement from the General Assembly means that the city’s finances could face a serious plummet in the upcoming months, with a deficit of at least $800m to Chicago’s budget. Supporters say that the gaming revenue produced by the casino would turnover $45m, which is more than enough to pay for the public works capital bill; now also in danger.
“You’re right, this is a simple technical bill and the reality is that this could jeopardize the vertical capital projects,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago. “But, do you know what else is going to jeopardize the vertical capital projects? Not having a Chicago casino.”
In an effort to boost local tax revenue, Illinois has begun building the other 4 permitted state casinos ahead of Chicago’s; however, these casinos are being placed in areas which are economically fatigued.
Most would think that this would put Chicago’s casino at the top of the priority list, but due to the high 72% tax rates, which are some of the highest rates in the country, investors are backing off and slowing down the process.
Legislators won’t congregate for another session until January 2020. This is when the casino fix will be brought up for discussion once again, along with Sen. Robert Peters’ real estate transfer tax. Another topic which was missed off the last legislature.
“We got a few things done. Not the big stuff,” Peters said in an interview on Monday. “I think there’s still stuff for the city that needs to get done and figured out in the spring.”
A Matter of Urgency
Chicago’s newly elected mayor, Lori Lightfoot, said that “casino is still very much in the sightline thanks to the progress we’ve made with our state partners,” after visiting the capital to push for the fix. “While this delay does not impact the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget, this fiscal challenge looms large for fiscal year 2021 and thereafter, thus, the heightened sense of urgency remains,” she added.
Regional representatives all voted for other new measures to be put in place in the last veto session. These measures included prohibiting high school students to vote once they have left school, outlining the pension code for large municipalities to create pension funds, and voiding non-driving-related offenses which can lead to the suspension of driving licenses.
Other bills up for discussion but weren’t passed during the session included banning vaping in public places, permanentizing daylight savings time, and conducting studies on red light cameras in the state. These are likely to be up for re-discussion spring’s General Assembly.
Still No Sports Betting
As part of the capital bill signed by Gov. J.B Pritzker in June this year, sports betting was also legalized in the state, and is something which will give the gambling landscape and collective revenues in Illinois a much needed boost.
Unfortunately, the state are also facing delays with bringing this into fruition due to the Gaming Control Board’s slow progress with drafting new regulations and gaming licenses.
Unless a master license is created, Illinois is losing the potential to offer mobile betting as well. And it’s something which cannot be introduced until 18 months after the official launch of retail-based sports betting.
When sports betting is finalized in the state, this should certainly help bring Chicago back onto the map through the revenues it will produce each year. Mayor Lightfoot said how she will continue to push lawmakers on both subjects with the support and backing of Governor Pritzker.
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