At the beginning of this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot embarked on a journey to Illinois capital, hoping to convince lawmakers to make legislative changes on casino operations in the state.
In August, Las Vegas-based Union Gaming was permitted to carry out a feasibility study on casino operation in the state by Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). The study found that the tax structure in the state is excessive, and no casino could be interested in building an integrated resort at Windy City. The firm also found that the gaming expansion law in Illinois appeals for heavy taxation on gaming revenue at 72 percent.
Lightfoot met with lawmakers on Tuesday and tried to convince them to consider amending the tax requirement, but there was no breakthrough.
“We feel like things are moving forward in a positive direction, but we’ve got to get the language finalized and get it to the respective chambers so that legislators can see what the outlines of the legislation look like,” Lightfoot said after the meeting.
The Illinois gaming expansion package was signed in July by state Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Apart from Chicago’s integrated resort, the legislation allowed the establishment of five small regional casinos in southern suburbs plus ten riverboat casinos on the shore of Lake Michigan.
Union Gaming study further found that Chicago integrated resort would be hit hardest by the tax law since they will be required to pay 39 percent tax on adjusted gross receipt plus an additional 33.3 percent City Privilege tax. The total tax will add up to 72.3 percent.
According to Casino.org, the study factored in the operating cost among other utilities and they concluded that a casino operator in Chicago would only pocket one percent.
Back to Drawing Board
While Lightfoot’ visit to Springfield was unsuccessful but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Gov. Lightfoot and Pritzker are working day and night to ensure the Chicago casino plans are realized.
“It’s good for the city. It’s good for the state, so we will be working very hard to try to get something through. There is still some negotiation discussion going on, but I am hopeful we will be able to get it through”, Pritzker stated.