Illinois Senate Approves Chicago Casino Plan

Illinois Senate Approves Chicago Casino Plan

Chicago will soon get a new entertainment property as the Illinois Senate has approved the casino plan 42-14, and Governor Pritzker has already said that he will sign it to give the final approval.

The movement marked a huge feat for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who achieved what many previous city mayors failed to achieve. Approving the plan, lawmakers said that the upcoming casino will get millions in upfront in licensing fees and the state will get an additional $700 million in reconciliation fee.

Explaining the estimated figures, State Sen. Bill Cunningham (a Democrat from Chicago), said that the state’s capital programs would receive $45 million upfront in licensing fees before the official opening of the casino, while the same casino will generate an additional $700 million in a re-worked reconciliation fee for the state.

Commenting on the development, Sen. Cunningham added, “It’s fair to say that over the next handful of years, the Chicago casino is going to provide hundreds of millions of dollars, indeed well over a billion dollars to our capital program.”

The plan in question, which was sponsored by Sen. Cunningham, was earlier passed by the Illinois House 77-32 with bipartisan support. Eighteen House Republicans voted in favor of the measure. Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island), who sponsored the bill in the Illinois House, credited Lightfoot’s “tenacity” in pursuing lawmakers for the plan.

The estimated revenues from the casino segment are expected to help the city’s badly underfunded police and fire pension funds. The plan passed the rate of Chicago casino tax structure-related feasibility study in 2019. The measure changes the reconciliation fee payments for all city casinos from two to six years, and allows for new gaming applications to have more time to pay licenses in case the state gaming board grants them. That would be extended from July 2020 to July 2021. The extension aims to assist casinos that have been closed for around a couple of months due to the corona virus pandemic.

However, some lawmakers like Greg Harris (D-Chicago) argued that there are many people who are in need of help across the state. Harris stressed that lawmakers had a chance to help all those but the budget did little. State Rep. Bob Rita (D-Blue Island) said the budget maintained funding for many operations, but failed to help healthcare agencies that have deeply been hit by the notorious COVID-19 pandemic.