Three times bigger
There have been reports that a mega-casino could be coming to Chicago, Illinois. According to a key legislator in the state, the project is already at the final negotiations stage. Senator Terry Link, the sponsor of a casino bill, says that such a casino would be three times bigger than all other gambling facilities in the state.
The bill allows for six potential casino developments, including the proposed mega casino. With the aim of expanding casino gambling in Illinois, the three horse tracks will be able to have slot machines. This will allow the tracks to eventually become casino facilities.
Also in the bill is a provision to increase the limit on video gambling machines in establishments such as bars and restaurants, from a maximum of five machines to six.
Chicago would receive 33% of the adjusted gross receipts in tax revenue if the mega-casino goes ahead. This is significantly higher than in most other states. It seems likely the proposed high rate is to incentivize the city to approve the bill.
But no information…
No information has been announced about the potential mega casino from anyone apart from Link. This is not a particularly good sign as the legislature close at the end of May. This means that this bill cannot become law unless it passes in the final few hours of the session.
There have been similar motions in the past, one of which got vetoed by ex-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. Current Governor JB Pritzker has in the past spoken about using gambling to generate new sources of revenue. Therefore he clearly is not afraid to embrace such a change.
Link believes the casino bill could get approval even if does not include the legalization of sports betting. Therefore, many see this project as being high on the agenda for the legislature coming into the next session.
Potential for legal sports betting
Illinois was the first US state to start selling lottery tickets online, and also the first to make online gambling illegal. There is a long history of gambling in the state and it has been a beneficial industry over the years.
Pritzker initially indicated that sports betting would become legal as part of his proposed 2020 budget, which initially included $200m in revenue from sports betting. This budget went into detail about what legal sports betting would look like. It would allow the existing gambling facilities in the state to offer retail and online sports betting.
There would be a total of 20 sports betting licenses, each with a price tag of $10m and with an annual renewal fee of $5,000. Sports betting revenues would be taxed at 20%. According to estimates from Oxford Economics, Illinois could generate revenues of between $384m and $680m annually once the sector matures. With a 20% tax rate, the state could make between $77m and $136m each year.
While this sports betting measure was well thought out, it did not receive enough traction to come to fruition. Some called for a drop in the tax rate from 20% to 12.5%. While there have been lengthy talks on the issue, lawmakers are keen to not rush into anything before certain aspects are clarified.