This spring, lawmakers passed a large scale gambling expansion bill that will head to Governor Quinn’s desk for him to approve or reject sometime in the coming months.
Proponents argue that gaming—a legal industry in Illinois—is a much-needed revenue source that Illinois is currently losing out on by sending people to neighboring states to gamble.
Opponents argue that gaming provides a revenue stream that comes from those who can least afford it, and that this proposal was passed without sufficient public discussion to ensure a transparent and accountable process.
But what’s actually in the gambling expansion proposal lawmakers approved in May?
Q: What’s the big picture?
- Five new casino licenses in Illinois (Chicago, Park City, Danville, Rockford, South Suburban Cook)
- An increase in the number of gaming positions at each of the existing nine casinos
- A new year round racetrack at the Illinois Fairgrounds
- Slot machines at all racetracks
Q: Where in Chicago can gambling occur?
The measure is ambiguous as to whether there is a limit on the number of locations where gambling can occur. Gambling could occur at:
- a riverboat on Lake Michigan
- O’Hare and Midway (slot machines only)
- a new landbased casino structure
- and the possibility of multiple smaller gambling locations throughout the city, such as hotels.
Q: Who oversees gambling in Chicago?
- The Chicago Casino Development Authority
- Board members are appointed by Chicago’s Mayor.
- The Authority is separate from the Illinois Gaming Board.
Q: What ethics laws are included?
- All employees and board members of the Authority are barred from gambling in any Illinois facility.
- Employees and their family members are prohibited from having conflicts of interest, including financial interests in contractors or subcontractors.
- A revolving door prohibition exists for employees and board members.
- After leaving employment at the Authority, they can’t be employed by a contractor they did over $25,000 worth of business with for two years.
Q: What licenses and fees are associated with the proposal?
- New casino licenses cost $100,000.
- Each gaming position inside of Cook County costs $25,000. Each gaming position outside of Cook County costs $12,500.
- After four years, license owners must pay a fee based on their highest 12 months of revenue.
- Tax rates for gambling revenues decrease.