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Illinois Takes Another Stab At Gambling Expansion

Could A Chicago Casino Become A Reality?

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ChicagoIllinois will try its hand once again at expanding its gambling industry, which includes a proposal to put a casino in Chicago. There’s been talks throughout the 2010s of putting a Las Vegas-style commercial casino in the Windy City.

According to the American Gaming Association, the Chicago area is the nation’s third largest commercial casino and racino market, trailing only the Las Vegas Strip and Atlantic City.

Per a report from the Illinois News Network, a Republican lawmaker says a bill on the table would allow for the development of up to six additional casinos.

“We just need the speaker to allow a vote in the House,” State Sen. Dave Syverson said. “The last two years he hasn’t allowed his members to vote on it. But if he would allow a vote, this thing would pass and we could be up and running.”

According to Syverson, Illinois residents spent $1.5 billion gambling in neighboring states last year. That’s despite Illinois already having 10 “riverboat” casinos.

“If you go to an Indiana casino, right over the border, you’ll see 95 percent of the license plates are all Illinois plates,” Syverson said. "Other states are building casinos right on the border of Illinois and they’re marketing and attracting Illinois people that go there and spend their money.”

There’s potential for a massive new $400 million tribal casino just across the border into Wisconsin that Illinois is also worried about. A decision on that project would come from the federal government which regulates tribal gambling.

“We’re talking about a couple hundred yards over the border, building the largest casino in the Midwest,” Syverson said of the possible Ho-Chunk Nation casino in Beloit. “Their casino would have a water park, they would have a convention center, they would have a hotel, they would have a concert venue. It is a concern. It would devastate [tourism in] northern Illinois.”

The legislation is Senate Bill 7.

The state is also separately considering allowing online poker.