Chicago has been struggling for a while to take an original land-based casino. The city has been resisting on the casino project due to the reason of high tax obligations. Chicago Mayor, Lori Lightfoot, recently proposed an Act which will introduce lighter taxes to a future casino operator. The official voting has been organized on Thursday, but the city will still wait on the casino launch.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago said.
The House “needs to stop the regionalism and take a leap of faith that will allow Chicago to move forward appropriately and responsibly with a casino,”
And Chicago Democrats weren’t happy
Rather, lawmakers passed a separate, watered down gambling fix bill that strengthen background checks on applicants for casino and sports betting authorities.
The congressional hiccup represents the recent delay to create a Chicago gambling mecca, while the five other municipalities granted new casinos under the legislation signed in June have already submitted developers’ applications to the Illinois Gaming Board.
Finally, Lightfoot and her team couldn’t get much backing to pass the compromise measure — and some lawmakers wanted an extra piece of revenue for their districts.
But bill sponsor State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, called the mayor a “great partner, willing to do whatever it takes” to get to the finish line, in addition with calls to members. That also added a rare visit to the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday.
And the setback doesn’t mean the big city casino won’t eventually break ground. The tax structure issue could be brought up again when lawmakers return to session in January.
Lightfoot said in a statement
“While we are disappointed that a much-needed fix to the gaming bill won’t be made during this compressed veto session, the Chicago casino is still very much in the sightline thanks to the progress we’ve made with our state partners, I am looking forward to continuing our conversations about advancing the casino starting in January.”
The rookie mayor still has the support of Pritzker, who is depending on revenue from the Chicago mega-casino to support fund his signature $45 billion capital projects plan.
Pritzker’s office said in a statement.
“The General Assembly made important technical changes that were needed to ensure the smooth operations of the gaming legislation, but work remains to make sure the Chicago casino opens,”
“The governor is committed to continuing to work with the city and other stakeholders to finalize this important element.”
In attempting to pass the cleanup measure, Rita said
“I am working with the mayor’s office to try to figure out what we can do to get over the goal line.”
Rita later told reporters there were several “sideline issues” — some not even gambling related — among the House caucus, which stalled support.
The cleanup measure vote came a day after the Illinois House passed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pension consolidation plan to help downstate fire and police pensions.
And Chicago Democrats who helped that plan argued it’s time for lawmakers from across the state to help the city deal with its pension mess.
State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said…
…during debate of the casino cleanup measure
“We took a leap of faith, but this body, as somebody said, needs to stop the regionalism and take a leap of faith that will allow Chicago to move forward appropriately and responsibly with a casino that will fund the projects that are going to be built all over this state,”
There is another street ahead of the January session. As some mayoral critics have urged, the city could put the Chicago casino license out for bid anyway, even with the with tax structure that a state-hired consultant deemed too “onerous” for any expected developer to break even — and look if anyone comes to the table.
But Lightfoot has said all along she had an idea that the tax structure wouldn’t work. She signed off this week on a compromise from Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and Rita which would have thrown out the original 72% effective tax rate on the casino, while also giving the developer more time to pay back a big “reconciliation fee.”
The legislation currently in place taxes the Chicago casino along the same graduated system as Illinois’ 10 existing casinos, while slapping on an additional 33.3% privilege tax to locate in the city.
The revised structure would have introduced a new graduated tax system specific to the Chicago casino with a higher overall tax rate compared to existing casinos but with a smaller percentage going to the state, and a relatively bigger chunk earmarked for the city.
For instance, an existing casino is taxed at 15% of its total revenue from slot machines up to $25 million. Under the proposal, the Chicago casino would have been taxed at 22.5% of its gross revenue, with 12% of that going to the state and 10.5% going to the city for its police and firefighter pension funds.