J.B. Pritzker, Illinois Governor, signed a gambling package on 28th July 2019 which would see an establishment of a huge casino in Chicago and more to that, there would be other 5 smaller regional casinos established in southern suburbs. This was part of a $45 billion infrastructure plan that had been funded with taxes collected from gas, cigarettes and expanded gambling.
The governor would also legalize sports betting in the state. This would see land-based casinos given the approval to take sports bets as well as mobile platforms allowed to take bets from the players. The package signed would also see an increase in the number of video gambling machines and an increase in the maximum bet on the machines.
This would see the number of casino seats growing from 44,000 to about 80,000. This move has seen the state been referred to as ‘the gambling capital of the Midwest’ by the local media. This package is seen to enable the state to provide a gambling space that is three times the size than that of the neighboring states.
The much-hyped Chicago casino will provide casino seats that are three times more than those found in Illinois’s ten casinos. There will be 4,000 seats (positions) provided. Some of the ten existing casinos will see their gambling positions increase from the normal 1,200 to a number near 2,000.
$45 Construction Program
In a plan dubbed ‘Rebuild Illinois,’ Pritzker said that they were investing $45 Billion for over six years and the investment would be used to fix ‘what is broken and repair what is needed.’ He said,
‘Together we passed the largest, most robust capital plan in this state’s history.’
The state will expect to collect revenues of $2 Billion in the licensing fees, $400 Million in the gambling market per year and more to that, there is an expectation that the project will create temporary construction jobs and an estimated 4,000 permanent job once the Chicago property is finished up.
Other regional casinos that will be located at Downstate Williamson County, Cook County, Waukegan, Danville and Rockford will see other job opportunities arise as two of the casinos will be built from scratch with the other three existing racetracks will be upgraded to casinos.
While there are positives being derived from the project, there have been critics in equal share, especially from church groups. Anita Bedell, Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems executive director notes that the large chunk of money being expected to raise the project cost will be from residents losing money in ‘video gaming machines, betting on sports, gambling at stadiums, casinos and mobile gambling.’ She goes on to state that that would be ‘a terrible way’ of raising the money.
Illinois Casino Gambling Association (ICGA) on the other hand are skeptical of the revenues being expected and on the other hand, the association cites a ‘saturated’ market in the event the gambling seats are increased.
Explaining this, ICGA director, Tom Swoik, said that the increase of the gambling positions would not see an increase in the number of gamblers which would make the market overcrowd. He finished by saying, ‘…this bill doesn’t help.’