A bill set to help pave the way for a Chicago casino was signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday.
The legislation, Senate Bill 516, will help push along proposals for a Chicago casino by reworking existing tax structures, according to a press release sent out by the governor’s office.
The bill will also allow gaming machines at the Illinois State Fair, and will provide relief for casinos and other gambling institutions during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Working with the General Assembly and Mayor Lori Lightfoot, we accomplished what eluded so many others, and now this momentous legislation tackles key priorities for the state of Illinois – helping to ensure that Chicago can pay for first responders’ pensions and alleviate the burden on property taxpayers, along with investing in universities and hospitals throughout the state,” Pritzker said in a statement.
A bill approving a casino license for Chicago passed the legislature last year, but tax issues revealed by a detailed study showed that it would be extremely challenging to find developers willing to work on the project. The study, conducted by the Las Vegas-based Union Gaming Analytics, indicated that the “onerous” tax and fee structure would have made it difficult for a Chicago casino to attract investors.
Under the previous law, a Chicago casino operator would have to pay a $250,000 application fee up front, a $15 million “reconciliation” fee when the license was issued, and up to $120 million in gambling position fees.
The city casino operator would also have been required to pay an additional 33.3 percent “privilege tax” on top of an existing tax structure paid by all Illinois casinos.
According to the press release, the bill establishes new Privilege Tax schedules and provides tax relief by extending the payment period for reconciliation payments.
Lawmakers hope that the bill will help to raise money for the state’s $45 billion capital construction program.
“This legislation will provide jobs and economic opportunity for all of Illinois by helping fund the largest infrastructure improvement program in the history of the state,” State Rep. Jay Hoffman said in a statement.
The bill will also allow the Illinois Department of Agriculture to operate video gaming terminals at the state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin.