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A Sigh of Relief as Illinois Gambling Expansion Passes Hurdle

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A Sigh of Relief as Illinois Gambling Expansion Passes Hurdle

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Ever since this year’s historic gambling expansion bill passed, there have been concerns about whether state regulators will be able to meet important deadlines related to the bill. These concerns have been somewhat addressed now that a group has been hired to conduct a feasibility study relating to the construction of a casino in downtown Chicago. The Illinois Gaming Board announced the hiring of Union Gaming Analytics of Las Vegas in early July. Three groups placed bids for the study, but the other two failed to meet filing deadlines.

Cory Aronovitz, a gaming attorney with Casino Law Group in Chicago, said that the board has a history of making sound decisions.

“This board, in particular, has never had any issues concerning scandals or compromising the integrity of the gaming environment in Illinois, and that’s a function of them being meticulous and not abiding by any artificial timeline,” Aronovitz said..

Aronovitz also noted the massive gambling expansion bill approved by the Illinois legislature on June 1 “does not create a penalty for failing to adhere to its deadlines.”

Nevertheless, Aronovitz acknowledged the IGB “clearly needs additional resources ... . They are understaffed.” Two of the board’s five positions are empty, but Aronovitz says Illinois’s Governor Pritzker is close to filling those vacancies.

At this point, the Illinois gaming industry is primarily focused on the casino designated for downtown Chicago. Aronovitz said he is optimistic a casino designated for Williamson County in southern Illinois will become a destination resort.

Gambling Expansion in Illinois

Senate Bill 690, recently signed into law, allows for six new casinos – including one mega-casino in Chicago – and the legalization of sports betting statewide, among other changes. These changes may well turn Illinois into the Midwestern gambling capital.

Not only will the new casinos make Illinois more attractive for tourism, they are expected to rake in significant tax revenue as well. At full implementation, it is expected that gambling in Illinois will lead to a one-time revenue boost of $2.7 billion, in addition to $470 million annually in recurring revenue. This revenue will go toward funding vertical infrastructure spending as part of Governor Pritzker’s capital plan. These numbers are only rough projections, but they paint a positive picture for the expansion of gambling in Illinois.

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