WBEZ | casino http://www.wbez.org/tags/casino Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Observers question expanded gambling in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/observers-question-expanded-gambling-illinois-91160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20071210_bcalhoun_Illi_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>Questions surrounding a gambling bill that is headed to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk have focused on regulation and on how much new casinos could raise for state coffers.</p><p>But casino industry watchers also are asking whether the gambling market will be oversaturated with five new riverboats, mini-casinos at the state’s five horse racing tracks and slot machines at Chicago’s airports. Increased competition from neighboring states, an unpredictable economy and casino bankruptcies are raising distress signals for the industry around the country.</p><p>The Illinois bill includes the nation’s first city-owned casino. It would be in Chicago, and be overseen by a board chosen by the mayor and approved by the Illinois Gaming Board. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been cranking up the pressure on Quinn to sign the bill. The mayor already has released a wish list of infrastructure projects he hopes to pay for with casino profits.</p><p>The Chicago-Northwest Indiana market ranks No. 3 in the nation in top casino earnings,&nbsp;behind Las Vegas and Atlantic City, according to the American Gaming Association.&nbsp;Every state but two, Hawaii and Utah, has some form of legal gambling, industry observers point out, raising questions about whether further expansion can be profitable.</p><p>Supporters say the appetite for gambling remains robust. They point to the July opening of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, the state’s newest casino, as proof. Traffic jammed the Tri-State Tollway, the casino parking lot reached maximum capacity and patrons waited in long lines to get inside.</p><p>State Senate President John Cullerton, a Democrat from Chicago, said he was approached recently by a lobbyist hired by a Wisconsin casino who hoped to stifle competition by derailing Illinois’s expansion of gambling sites. The fact that neighboring states are worried suggests there is a market for more, Cullerton said.</p><p>Supporters also argue that a casino in tourist-rich Chicago would keep gamblers here instead of sending them across state lines. Dozens of buses depart from Chicago and the suburbs every day for gambling destinations elsewhere.&nbsp; Emanuel has said Illinois should not allow Indiana to get “$20 million a month while our infrastructure is crumbling."</p><p>Even if Quinn signs the gambling bill without changes, finding investors could be difficult. Investors in the Des Plaines Rivers Casino spent $450 million on licenses, fees and infrastructure before the doors even opened. And the state has one of the highest tax rates in the country, at 50 percent of adjusted gross receipts for the most profitable casinos.</p><p>“It’s a difficult economy to find any kind of capital,” said Ed Feigenbaum, publisher of Indiana Gaming Insight, a nonpartisan newsletter that tracks the industry. “In the boon days, anybody who had a gaming license could find cheap money. They also thought riverboats were immune to economic downturns. We found out that was not the case.”</p><p>Casinos nationwide have suffered from the recession, including those on Las Vegas’s famous strip. Dozens have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, teetered on bankruptcy, scaled back on property improvements or laid off employees.</p><p>In Indiana, five of the state’s 13 gambling properties filed for bankruptcy reorganization in recent years. One company, Casino Aztar, emerged from bankruptcy with a new owner, Tropicana Entertainment. But four others — Majestic Star I and II in Gary, Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Indianapolis, and Indiana Live in Shelbyville — remain tangled in court proceedings.</p><p>Still, for local and state governments, the lure can be strong. Illinois casinos earned $1.4 billion in adjusted gross receipts in 2010, sending $384 million to the state treasury. An additional $83 million went to host towns. Rivers Casino in Des Plaines took in $18 million in adjusted gross receipts during its first two weeks of operation, according to the latest numbers from the Illinois Gaming Board. The totals put the casino on target for its projected $325 to $400 in annual revenue.</p><p>Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino and Gaming Association, which opposed the expansion bill, said adjusted gross receipts — profits minus winnings paid out to gamblers — paint a skewed portrait of casinos’s profits because the numbers do not include overhead costs.</p><p>“The bottom line is that the state makes two to three times more from taxes than the casinos,” he said. “On top of that, they’re paying salaries, fringe benefits and the other costs of operating that casino, everything from poker chips to toilet paper to garbage pickup. It’s difficult to try to convince some of the larger companies to come to Illinois and open up these properties.”</p><p>Illinois casinos reported their highest numbers in 2007, with $2 billion in adjusted gross receipts. Part of the drop-off since then hit in 2008 when Illinois banned indoor smoking statewide. Indiana, Michigan and Iowa allow smoking at many of their casino properties.</p><p>Riverboat casinos first opened in Illinois in 1991, reporting $15 million in adjusted gross receipts that year. Since then, the state has debated, but not enacted, numerous gambling bills. Lawmakers gradually changed the law to allow the floating vessels to become land based, and that has made them more profitable, with patrons able to come and go more easily.</p><p>In 2009, desperate for money to recharge the construction industry and put people to work, lawmakers legalized video poker as a way to pay off construction bonds. They followed that action this year with a proposed Chicago-owned casino, more riverboats and slots at racetracks.</p><p>A longtime gambling researcher, John Kindt, professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois, met with Quinn last week along with other gambling opponents to urge him to veto the bill. Gambling, Kindt said, is not the pot of gold supporters often suggest it is. For example, he said, money pumped into slot machines and other forms of gambling is lost to the overall economy.</p><p>“There are thousands of pages of research showing market saturation and how the gambling economy is cannibalizing the consumer economy,” he said. “As Governor Quinn has said himself, you can’t gamble your way to prosperity.”</p><p>As consolidation and bankruptcy weighs on the industry, casino giants are looking overseas for growth opportunities. Macau in China now surpasses Las Vegas as the world’s top gambling destination. Las Vegas gambling giants, including MGM Grand, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the billionaire casino magnate Steve Wynn, are turning there for expansion, not necessarily to cities like Rockford or Danville, both of which would receive casinos under the Illinois bill.</p><p>As the governor considers his options, Senate President Cullerton is working on a follow-up bill to address Quinn’s concerns that the original measure lacks proper regulation. They also have discussed revising the 2009 video gambling law as part of a compromise package.</p><p>Quinn said he would act promptly when the legislation arrives on his desk. But he has not said precisely what that action will be.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 29 Aug 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/observers-question-expanded-gambling-illinois-91160