Should a casino be put in Block 37?

December 7, 2010

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(Photo by Joe Balynas via Flickr)
A casino located in Joliet, Illinois

Chicago's business community is already preparing to add a casino downtown, even before the gambling expansion gets approval from state legislators.

The Illinois legislature is looking for ways to close a budget gap that could reach $15 billion. One proposal the House could vote on next month would create five new casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago.

"We're a lot further along than we've been in many, many years," Jerry Roper, who heads the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said.

He said he's lobbying representatives and the governor. Roper said if it passes, the new development at Block 37 would be the perfect location for a casino.

"Put it where it's going to have the biggest impact," he said. "Where we don't have to build additional theaters, where we don't have to build addition restaurants."

Block 37 has been going through its own financial rough times lately. The downtown property's developer lost ownership of the mall in a foreclosure suit.

Meantime Gov. Pat Quinn won't say whether he'd sign a gambling expansion bill.