Digital Access

Access newstrib.com and all Shaw Media Illinois content from your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

News, features, sports, opinion and more!

Email Newsletters

Sign up for News Tribune email newsletters and stay in the know.
State

Pritzker signs bill paving way for Chicago casino

State’s revenue share to fund hospital, university construction

Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, answers questions during debate of SB 516, a gambling bill involving a Chicago casino, during an extended session of the Illinois House of Representatives on May 23 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield. The bill was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law Tuesday by Gov. JB Pritzker. (Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]
Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, answers questions during debate of SB 516, a gambling bill involving a Chicago casino, during an extended session of the Illinois House of Representatives on May 23 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield. The bill was approved by the General Assembly and signed into law Tuesday by Gov. JB Pritzker. (Pool photo by Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill into law Tuesday that paves the way for development of a major casino in Chicago, something officials expect to provide significant revenues for the state’s recently-passed capital improvements plan known as Rebuild Illinois.

Lawmakers passed the bill during their special session in May. They initially approved a Chicago casino plan in the massive gaming expansion law enacted in 2019, but a subsequent study showed the taxes and fees included in that bill would have made such a casino financially infeasible.

The bill signed by Pritzker, Senate Bill 516, provides for a lower tax schedule that ranges from 22.5 to 77.4 percent of adjusted gross receipts from slot machines, and from 15 to 35 percent on table games. That revenue is split between the state and the city of Chicago, with the state getting the larger share of the cut.

In February, while the bill was being negotiated, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot estimated that a casino could produce around $1.2 billion in revenue, with the bulk of that going into the state’s coffers. That money is earmarked for so-called “vertical” construction projects such as hospitals and university campus improvements.

The city’s share of revenue is earmarked for police and firefighter pension obligations, and a small amount is set aside for Cook County for criminal justice enhancements.

“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,” Pritzker said in a statement. “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.”

Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, one of the principal negotiators of the bill, called the bill signing “a day many years and many long hours in the making,” adding that it would provide a boost to both the city’s and state’s economies.

Sen. Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat and a lead sponsor of the bill, said it would provide “a measure of financial stability to Chicago’s public safety pensions” while at the same time providing relief to Chicago property tax payers.

Other provisions of the bill authorize the Illinois Department of Agriculture to operate video gambling terminals at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair. It calls on the agency to sign three-year contracts with licensed terminal operators, with money from those contracts going to each fair’s capital improvements and harness racing funds.

The bill takes effect Wednesday, July 1.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Loading more