Illinois Town Wants To Amend Casino Agreement

As Des Plaines, Illinois councilmen wrote checks for $5.8 million to 10 needy South suburban communities and for $10 million to the state, local officials said the arrangement—which brought Rivers Casino (l.) to the city--is unfair. Des Plaines is the only casino host city that pays annual allotments.

Last week, the Des Plaines, Illinois city council formally approved allocating .8 million to 10 needy South suburban communities, including Dixmoor, Robbins and Chicago Heights. Des Plaines also pays the state million. These annual allocations are part of the deal the city agreed to in 2008 in order to have Rivers Casino operate there. Des Plaines was left with .8 million generated from Rivers Casino 2013 revenue. The city also receives  0,000-0,000 annually in local property, food and beverage taxes.

Of the nine Illinois cities that host riverboat casinos, only Des Plaines is required to share gaming revenue from its casino with 10 needy communities and the state. City leaders have been trying for years to change the agreement that takes about $15 million a year from the city.

Recently Alderman Mark Walsten said, “It’s always been my contention that Des Plaines has gotten the shaft. We’re the only ones subject to this penalty. As far as I’m concerned every single casino licensee should have a share of their proceeds go to the needy towns so everyone is on an equal plane. Why is Des Plaines getting stuck with this whole bill and the nine others are skating?”

Former Mayor Marty Moylan, who attempted to have the legislature change the agreement to reduce or remove the required allotments, noted some of the 10 needy towns that receive large sums from Des Plaines are trying to lure casinos. “They want it both ways,” Moylan said, adding Des Plaines could change the list of needy towns to include as many as 25.

In the meantime, Mayor Andrew Przybylo of Niles, Illinois recently told a task force he appointed that he wants more clarification on a measure to legalize video gambling before he can present it to village trustees. The task force had recommended that village trustees approve video gambling in Niles, with certain conditions—but did not clarify what those conditions should be.

Przybylo said, “I didn’t get their specific recommendations. I want them to give me the conditions they alluded to.”

The task force made its recommendation to allow video gambling following two days of public hearings on the pros and cons of the issue.

When video gambling first was allowed, Niles trustees voted to opt out. But since then members of the business community have pressured village officials to allow video gambling, claiming they are losing  business to Morton Grove, where video gambling is legal, and to Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

Video gambling opponents have said competition is not a valid argument for lifting the video gambling ban in Niles.