WBEZ | casino http://www.wbez.org/tags/casino Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel pushes Springfield for changes to police, fire pensions http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Rahm.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long said a property tax increase for Chicago residents is the &ldquo;last resort&rdquo; to cover a scheduled increase in payments owed to the city&rsquo;s cash-strapped police and fire pensions.</p><p>To avoid a hike, he&rsquo;s asking Illinois state legislators to approve changes to the funding schedule for those two retirement funds - in addition to adding future payments to the pensions from a new source of revenue created by a potential new, city-owned casino.</p><p>Emanuel&rsquo;s administration says that a 5-year-old state law forces the city to pay an extra $600 million this year toward its cash-strapped retirement funds for police officers and firefighters.</p><p>Those pensions are severely under-funded, so Emanuel wants lawmakers to pass a bill that would put off those payments for a few years - in exchange for later adding larger payments and putting the pensions on a better funding schedule over the next 40 years, rather than the current 25-year plan.</p><p>Under the extended schedule, the pensions would be funded at 90 percent in 2055, rather than the current rates of around 25 percent funded. If the bill is not passed, said Steve Koch, Emanuel&rsquo;s deputy mayor, then property taxes could skyrocket.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is always a matter of, in this sort of situation, of trying to reach a medium,&rdquo; Koch explained, &ldquo;where you protect the funds, which has been an objective of ours and an objective of the mayor since he took office, and equally protect taxpayers.&rdquo;</p><p>But Republicans criticized Emanuel&rsquo;s plan, saying the mayor&rsquo;s office is in a &ldquo;fantasyland,&rdquo; -- because the bill says it would take money from a Chicago casino, or casinos, to pay for pensions. Casinos that, as of yet, have not been approved by state lawmakers.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re essentially in a fantasyland here, assuming that you&rsquo;re going to get a casino and all the revenue associated with that casino, with us not even seeing a bill that relates to that,&rdquo; said State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton).</p><p>Lawmakers have been negotiating a gambling expansion bill behind closed doors, which could include a city-run casino; but so far a compromise has not been introduced to lawmakers. Koch said that if a casino is not approved, then the city would rely on cuts to city services or increases in fees or revenues to pay for the administration&rsquo;s proposed pension bill.</p><p>Meantime, the union representing Chicago firefighters, support the administration&rsquo;s pension plan, unlike other labor unions raising recent court challenges over previous efforts to change other city and state funds</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been pretty conservative with our benefits over the years, so we don&rsquo;t pull no shenanigans in our fund,&rdquo; said Dan Fabrizio, with the Chicago Firefighters Union.</p><p>The measure was approved by the House and Senate with mostly Democratic support. Gov. Bruce Rauner&#39;s office has not commented on his position on the bill.</p><p>Tony Arnold is WBEZ&rsquo;s Illinois state politics reporter. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 30 May 2015 11:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pushes-springfield-changes-police-fire-pensions-112112 Negotiations continue over gambling expansion in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/news/negotiations-continue-over-gambling-expansion-illinois-107418 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/bob rita.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Supporters of gambling expansion in Illinois are scrambling to negotiate the bill in Springfield.</p><p>A plan to add five casinos in Illinois, including one in Chicago, is still being negotiated as state legislators are scheduled to end their session on Friday.</p><p>State Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, sponsors the bill.</p><p>He said he wants to pass the gambling expansion package by Friday, but he doesn&rsquo;t know how the governor feels about the plan.</p><p>&ldquo;I guess I&rsquo;d like to know where the governor is on this issue,&rdquo; Rita told reporters Wednesday. &ldquo;And if the intent is Chicago should be out of this bill, he should say that.&rdquo;</p><p>Rita said if the Chicago casino is removed from the plan, it wouldn&rsquo;t have enough support.</p><p>The plan also allows horse racing tracks in the state and airports to add slot machines. Rita said the airport slots were still being negotiated.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would not support a gambling plan if lawmakers do not approve a pension reform bill first. Quinn has vetoed two previous gambling expansion bills.</p><p>The head of the Illinois Gaming Board, Aaron Jaffe, has said he has concerns about oversight of a Chicago casino.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 12:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/negotiations-continue-over-gambling-expansion-illinois-107418 Chicago officials defend plan to add arena, hotel to McCormick Place http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/chicago-officials-defend-plan-add-arena-hotel-mccormick-place-107378 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Filckr McCormick ChibiJosh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago officials say a casino may not fit close to McCormick Place on the city&rsquo;s near South Side. Illinois lawmakers are debating this week whether to allow Chicago to operate its own casino, and McCormick Place has been suggested as a potential site.</p><p>&ldquo;The area where we&rsquo;re talking about, which is on the North Side of McCormick Place, there really isn&rsquo;t much in the way of land that would be big enough to encompass a full-service casino operation if we wanted to,&rdquo; said Steve Koch, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy mayor. He testified at a hearing in Springfield before some Illinois state representatives Monday.</p><p>The debate over a Chicago casino comes as city officials are lobbying for a new arena at McCormick Place, where DePaul&rsquo;s basketball team would play.</p><p>Earlier this month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the ambitious projects as part of a renovation of the city&rsquo;s top tourist attractions.</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s office estimates the 10,000-seat arena would cost $140 million, and would host DePaul University&rsquo;s men&rsquo;s basketball games, in addition to potential acts related to &nbsp;trade shows at McCormick Place.</p><p>With the addition of the hotels, the total cost of the project is about $1.1 billion.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold">@tonyjarnold</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 27 May 2013 14:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/chicago-officials-defend-plan-add-arena-hotel-mccormick-place-107378 Hammond mayor wants two inland casinos http://www.wbez.org/news/hammond-mayor-wants-two-inland-casinos-104062 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cards.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>HAMMOND, Ind. &mdash; A northwestern Indiana mayor says he&#39;ll support moving one of the Lake Michigan riverboat casinos to an on-land location as long as his city gets a second casino.</p><p>Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said the proposal to move Gary&#39;s Majestic Star casino to a spot along Interstate 80/94 would hurt profits at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, so he would want his city to also have a casino near the highway.</p><p>Gary officials have pushed for several years for the state Legislature to approve an inland casino to boost its business.</p><p>McDermott tells <a href="http://bit.ly/V64HTh" target="_blank">The Times of Munster</a> that two land-based casinos would help Indiana better compete against proposed new casinos in Illinois.</p><p>State Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary calls McDermott&#39;s proposal an attempt to block a casino change for Gary.</p></p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 09:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hammond-mayor-wants-two-inland-casinos-104062 'Not everybody in Springfield ever gets everything they want': Rep. Lou Lang on gambling http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/not-everybody-springfield-ever-gets-everything-they-want-rep-lou-lang-gambling <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6022797489_cfd368c2d2_z.jpg" style="float: left; width: 300px; height: 225px; " title="The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, IL opened in 2011.(Flickr/Jeff Zoline)" />&ldquo;We have to make sure when you have the subject of gambling and gaming that everything is done right, from the beginning to the end. I think that&rsquo;s the only way to go. It&rsquo;s especially important to have oversight, integrity and protection for the public,&rdquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/quinn-says-pension-fix-must-happen-cool-gambling-expansion-99760"> Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said last week</a> about the ongoing debate in Springfield over whether to expand gambling in Illinois. The Governor has long been vocally skeptical over whether expanding the gaming industry in Illinois is the right move.</p><p>But does Illinois even need more gambling? And is it the best way to generate revenue? House Representative and sponsor of the bill&nbsp;Lou Lang (D-Skokie) strongly believes so.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;ve been working on this a long time and despite the fact that many think it&#39;s about revenue, for me, it&#39;s about many other things,&quot; said Lang. Mainly, adding jobs and not allowing the horse racing industry to die. It&#39;s about &quot;helping a legal industry...grow,&quot; Lang said on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>. &quot;It could just as easily be the widget industry.&quot;</p><p>Despite the fact that this legislative session has been crowded with issues to resolve, Lang doesn&#39;t think that means gambling expansion is less important.</p><p>&quot;Yes, the Medicaid problem was severe. The pension discussion had to continue. We had to balance a state budget and hurt as few people as possible....but nevertheless, that does not mean we shouldn&#39;t work on a piece of legislation,&quot; said Lang, who&#39;s been advocating for gambling for some time. &quot;The opportunity to put people to work is a very important one.&quot;</p><p>Responding to Governor Quinn&#39;s concerns, Lang pointed out that a version of the bill passed last week had <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-suggests-he-wont-sign-gambling-expansion-99752">concessions on eight of 12 areas</a> the Governor had pointed out as problems.</p><p>That said, &quot;Not everybody in Springfield ever gets everything they want,&quot; said Lang.</p><p>&quot;A lot of people talk about saturation and cannibalization, but my job as a legislator is...to worry about the bottom line,&quot; he continued, arguing that it&#39;s a matter of free markets. &quot;We wouldn&#39;t pass a law limiting McDonalds or Burger Kings.&quot;</p><p>There&#39;s still room for debate over how many jobs gambling expansion would bring the state. Lang says he&#39;s heard numbers as low as 25,000 and as high as 100,000. But he&#39;s interested in growth in &quot;peripheral industries&quot;, like hospitality, and argues that the &quot;upfront fees are not estimates,&quot; citing money from backers that could bring $1 billion a year to the state.</p><p>&quot;This is just one other way to put people to work, one other way to create opportunities for people, and that&#39;s how I&#39;ve always looked at it,&quot; Lang said.</p><p>While the Governor will likely veto the bill, Lang said he still thinks there&#39;s an opportunity to work it out. And if not, he&#39;s prepared to win this victory during veto session, even if it takes longer.</p></p> Mon, 04 Jun 2012 08:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/not-everybody-springfield-ever-gets-everything-they-want-rep-lou-lang-gambling Gov. Quinn antes up a scaled-back gambling expansion plan http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-18/gov-quinn-antes-scaled-back-gambling-expansion-plan-93227 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-18/QuinnAPSethPerlman.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Monday was a tough day at the track for proponents of gambling expansion in Illinois. The <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/" target="_blank">General Assembly’s</a> gambling bill never actually made it to <a href="http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Gov. Pat Quinn’s</a> desk; but that didn’t stop him from shooting it down. Quinn claimed that he did not want Illinois to become the Las Vegas of the Midwest--but he did offer an alternative that left the door open for a Chicago casino. WBEZ’s state government reporter Kristen McQueary analyzed the governor’s move on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>. McQueary also reports for the <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/" target="_blank">Chicago News Cooperative</a>.</p></p> Tue, 18 Oct 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-18/gov-quinn-antes-scaled-back-gambling-expansion-plan-93227 Lawmakers already horse-trading for new casino bill http://www.wbez.org/content/lawmakers-already-horse-trading-new-casino-bill <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-18/slot-machines-2_Flickr_Michael-Kapple.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn’s rejection of a casino bill Monday created a scramble among public officials, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office and lawmakers who are regrouping to assess their next move.&nbsp;</p><p>Quinn’s refusal to go along with several key sections of the gambling bill, and his assured veto, delivered a grave blow to the Illinois horse racing industry. The industry, which includes five tracks long-suffering from revenue losses, was counting on slot machines at their facilities to help rebuild the purses, or winnings, needed to revive the sport.</p><p>But Quinn’s move also represented a mere step in the process of political horse trading that underlies all complex, controversial bills in Springfield. Senate sponsor Terry Link (D-Waukegan) was already counter-offering Quinn’s proposal less than three hours after the governor’s news conference.</p><p>Link said he will introduce a new casino bill as early as Tuesday that incorporates several of Quinn’s demands—but not all of them. Park City, he said, will remain in the bill as a host town, and so will slots at racetracks, two items Quinn outright rejected.</p><p>“At first, the governor said the bill was too top heavy, but he’s come a long way,” Link said.</p><p>Indeed, Quinn said “yes” to five new casinos, which still marks a significant expansion of gambling. He rejected calls for more casinos as lieutenant governor.</p><p>But Link and the horseracing industry are banking on Quinn changing his mind on slot machines at horseracing tracks, and that gamble remains a major unknown. Allowing racing facilities to install the machines amounts to the creation of five mini-casinos at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Park, Balmoral Park, Fairmount Park and Maywood, in addition to the five casinos in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Lake County and south Cook County that Quinn said he would support.</p><p>Quinn said he didn’t support the idea of naming Park City, which is in Link’s Senate district, as a host town for a new casino. Instead, Quinn said the gaming board should choose a location in Lake County through a competitive bidding process.</p><p>“There should be no automatic licenses,” Quinn said.</p><p>Dave McCaffrey of the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association described Quinn’s announcement as “the first pitch of the seventh game, and the game will play out during the next month.”</p><p>Link said slots at racetracks bring more than 20 votes to the bill. Without it, he can’t pass any gambling expansion legislation, he said.</p><p>Link is willing to compromise on the regulatory components Quinn suggested. The new bill will more explicitly put the Illinois Gaming Board in charge of all decisions regarding new casinos, including the Chicago-owned facility. A Chicago Casino Development Authority will still be formed to oversee a Chicago casino, but it will report directly to the gaming board, Link said.</p><p>The new bill also will allow the gaming board more time and resources to handle the expansion, and the bill will reflect a 26 percent reduction in the number of overall gaming positions. That means fewer places to sit and gamble at each facility. Link would not specify how, exactly, the reduction would be divided among racetracks and proposed new casino locations. But he thought the reduction would appease Quinn’s concerns that the bill, again, would be too big.</p><p>“There is an oversaturation of casino gambling in Chicago and other parts of the state,” Quinn said. “We need to scale it back. We must have a much have smaller expansion of gambling.”</p><p>Link said he and the governor are getting closer in their negotiations.</p><p>“I would say we’re only about a half-mile apart,” Link said.</p><p>He said so far, Emanuel’s office is “on board” with the new bill, which could be heard in a specially-called Senate Executive Committee as early as Wednesday. Lawmakers are on break until the first week of veto session Oct. 25, but Link wants to get the new version moving before then.</p></p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 19:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/lawmakers-already-horse-trading-new-casino-bill Illinois could decide soon on slot machines at horse racing tracks http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-could-decide-soon-slot-machines-horse-racing-tracks-92973 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-08/AP070625034874.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' horse-racing industry could know within the next month or so whether the state will join 13 others in allowing slot machines at their tracks sites.</p><p>Illinois lawmakers signed off on allowing the slots at the state's five major horse tracks last spring. But the measure is in limbo as legislators try to address Gov. Pat Quinn's concerns about broadening gambling.</p><p>Lawmakers apparently don't have enough votes to override any veto that might come when the Legislature convenes a veto session later this month.</p><p>The bill's backers say the measure is crucial in saving the state's horse-racing industry that saw the amount of money wagered last year hit a 35-year low. Opponents say nature should take its course, and the sport should just die in Illinois.</p></p> Sat, 08 Oct 2011 22:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-could-decide-soon-slot-machines-horse-racing-tracks-92973 Some Chicago aldermen call on governor to sign gambling bill http://www.wbez.org/story/some-chicago-aldermen-call-governor-sign-gambling-bill-91383 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-19/Casino Interior_Getty_David McNew.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A group of Chicago alderman are urging Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn to sign a gambling expansion package. The City Council's black and Hispanic caucuses say they want a casino in Chicago to help boost revenue for infrastructure projects and job creation. The aldermen pointed to the more than 600 miles of water main that are more than a century old. They also noted the city needs at least $1 billion to address the public school's infrastructure needs.</p><p>Alderman Howard Brookins is the chairman of the black caucus.</p><p>"Most of the time you see legislators begging for money from Springfield," Brookins said Wednesday. "We're not begging for money, we're just asking the governor to allow us to make money and have revenue in the city of chicago so that we don't have to go back to our constituents and ask for a tax increase."</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said a Chicago casino would create thousands of jobs. The governor has criticized the bill as expanding gambling too much, and has not yet said whether he'll sign it. In addition to a Chicago casino, the bill would add four other casinos, expand gambling at existing casinos and put slots at racetracks.</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/some-chicago-aldermen-call-governor-sign-gambling-bill-91383 Illinois horse racing industry waiting for cash from casino licenses http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-horse-racing-industry-waiting-cash-casino-licenses-91288 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-31/AP100716127707.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' horse racing industry is still waiting for its share of revenue from the state's 10th casino license. They were promised that money more than a decade ago. Back in 1999 Illinois' horse tracks and horse owners were promised 15 percent of the adjusted gross receipts from the state's 10th casino license. That license was tied up in legal trouble for years.</p><p>Finally, a new owner opened the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July, yet the portion slated for horse racing remains in the state's Gaming Fund. Brad Hahn, a spokesman with the state's comptroller's office, said that's because the law states the money "shall be paid" rather than "transferred."</p><p>And without an appropriation from the General Assembly, the Gaming Board can't send the money.</p><p>"The short of it, right now there's no mechanism to move the money from the state Gaming Fund to the Horse Racing Equity Fund," Hahn said.</p><p>Hahn said the Gaming Board will ask legislators in the upcoming veto session to either appropriate the money or change the law's language to allow transferring the money.</p><p>Right now, there's $2.6 million waiting to be distributed.</p></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 11:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-horse-racing-industry-waiting-cash-casino-licenses-91288