Lightfoot's Chicago Casino Bill Fails In Springfield, Bur Urgency Remains To Address Casino Revenue

Dave Dahl
November 14, 2019 - 6:12 pm

SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Illinois House closed Thursday afternoon, ending any hope Mayor Lightfoot had of getting the Chicago casino bill passed this fall veto session. 

A measure was filed in the House that showed a compromise among important lawmakers and the mayor’s and governor’s offices, but there wasn’t enough support among Democrats to bring it to the floor for a vote.

State Rep. Bob Rita, a sponsor on the bill, said the it was not perfect and more work needs to be done next year to get more votes.

"When you are crafting a gaming bill, or any bill, you take it slowly and as you put different pieces in place, it's like a puzzle," Rita said.  

Another sponsor, Rep. Tim Butler, said not getting a vote passed on the bill signals a loss for the whole state. 

Mayor Lightfoot expressed disappointment in the decision but said the Chicago casino scene is still very much present and ugency remains to get the funding issue from casinos resolved.

"While we are disappointed that a much-needed fix to the gaming bill won't be made during this compressed veto session, the Chicago casino is still very much in the sightline thanks to the progress we've made with our state partners," Lightfoot said in a statement. "While this delay does not impact the city's 2020 fiscal year budget, this fiscal challenge looms large for 2021 and thereafter. A substantial percentage of the state's vertical capital bill depends on the revenue from a Chicago casino."

She continued that the proposal has moved Chicago closer than ever to bringing much-needed relief for our police and fire pension funds, while unlocking significant economic opportunity for city communities and capital funding for the state.

She said the gaming bill proposal was about finding a workable tax structure for a casino development that could fuel thousands of new jobs, create hundreds of millions in new gaming revenues for Chicago and Illinois, all while redirecting $260 million in additional funds annually that have otherwise been lost out to gambling across the border.

"I want to thank Governor Pritzker, Speaker Madigan, Senate President Cullerton, Representative Rita and members of the Chicago Federation of Labor, as well as other members of the General Assembly for their partnership this veto session, and I look forward to continuing our conversations about advancing the casino starting in January," she said. "With so much potential on the line, our city and state deserve to get this done and get this done right."