Re-elected Emanuel Revisits Chicago Casino

Re-elected as Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel (l.) has revived the issue of a casino in the city, which analysts said could generate $445 million annual tax revenue plus $100 million-plus in fees. State Rep. Robert Rita, who introduced a Chicago casino bill in the legislature, said Governor Bruce Rauner is receptive to the idea.

The re-election of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel puts a city casino back on the agenda. Emanuel has long said casinos could provide a new source of government revenue to help plug the state’s billion budget gap. Gaming analysts said expanding casinos in Illinois could generate annual tax revenue of 5 million, plus more than 0 million in fees paid by new venues after their first year of operation. “A Chicago casino will spur local economic growth and provide jobs to Chicagoans,” Emanuel said.

State Rep. Robert Rita has introduced two bills in the state legislature that would create a single casino in downtown Chicago with up to 10,000 gaming positions. The city would select the site and acquire the land in cooperation with the state’s Capital Development Board. A similar bill was passed by the state House and Senate in 2013 but then-Governor Pat Quinn vetoed it.

Said Rita, “Our biggest obstacle was the governor. The previous governor would say he had a problem with casino legislation and then when you changed the legislation to address his issues he would say he had another problem. I don’t think the new governor will be as flip-floppy. I’ve talked to Governor Bruce Rauner about casino expansion and he indicated he’s open to the idea.”