Chicago Casino Finally in the Cards

Chicago may finally see a casino built after much bickering, indecision, and exorbitant casino taxes. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill lowering the tax burden for potential casino investors, signalling the green light for a Chicago casino.

Failure to Launch

After years of struggle over a location for a Chicago casino ended, state and local taxes killed the baby casino in the crib. No casino developer wanted to pay the usurious taxes required by the government. Taxes were pegged as high as 78% on slots and 50% on other games. In addition, casino developers would be required to pay a $250,000 application fee up front, plus another $135 million in fees.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot championed the casino project, citing the much-needed cash injection to ailing infrastructures around the city and county. Several economically depressed Chicago areas all threw their hats in the ring to host a casino, empowered by all the revenue it could generate for their district.

However, the whole project stalled when Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker wanted his huge slice of the pie for the state. Until now. On Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker signed a new bill which effectively reduces the tax burden borne by casino investors. Now, there’s finally a realistic incentive to build a Chicago casino.

Senate Bill 516

The new legislation is dubbed Senate Bill 516, and it will help push Chicago casino proposals along by reworking tax structures. In a statement to the press, Gov. Pritzker touted the bill as momentous legislation.

Working with the General Assembly and Mayor Lori 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.

SB-516 was signed into law Tuesday as part of the state’s improvement plan known as Rebuild Illinois. The bill provides for a lower tax schedule ranging from 22.5% to 77.45 of slots revenues and 15% to 35% on table games. The taxes will be split between Chicago and the state, with the latter getting the bigger share.

It’s simple math: gambling equals cash for casinos, employees, cities, and the states that host them. Otherwise, nobody would build casinos at all. And now, with some much needed common sense, cash windfalls may finally blow through the Windy City.

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