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Casino, Poker Room Pitched For Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

Mayoral Candidate Says Casino For Passengers Would Be Great For City


A poker room where every single player is a tourist.

Could a card room be built at one of the nation’s busiest airports? That’s the plan from Chicago mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy, a former police superintendent. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy apparently plans to run for office with the pitch attached to his campaign. The election is slated for early 2019, with a handful of candidates already officially in the mix.

On the heels of O’Hare International Airport recently being approved for an $8.5 billion expansion project, McCarthy’s idea seeks to end a years-long debate on whether Chicago should have a Las Vegas-style casino and, if so, where it would be located. He believes that a casino at O’Hare would be a boon for the city. Around 80 million people fly into it each year.

“The issue with a casino in the city…was all of the problems it causes in the community," he said during an interview for the WBBM-AM Radio program, At Issue. “How about we put a casino in O’Hare Airport where now it’s for travelers coming through and it’s not going to affect the community and anybody who goes there has to go through TSA?”

Speaking like a former police chief, McCarthy said that a casino in a highly-secured location would mitigate against some of the social problems that casinos bring. President Donald Trump has at times singled out the city for its crime, which includes his claims that Afghanistan is safer.

A casino at O’Hare is “going to eliminate the issue of the downside of not being able to control what happens — whether it’s organized crime, prostitution, narcotics or whatever it is and, at the same time, that’s going to generate revenue,” McCarthy said. “How many people come through O’Hare and have layovers and have to sit around for hours and hours and hours? If they’re sitting at a blackjack table, there’s going to be revenue generated."

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has floated the idea of brining a casino to downtown Chicago, but a precise location reportedly has never been pitched by his team.

McCarthy’s plan would surely ruffle some feathers with the operators of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which is about a five-minute drive from O’Hare.

“I don’t know why anybody else hasn’t talked about this," McCarthy said of his idea.

Tags: Chicago,   Poker Room,   Airport,   O'Hare