“The RFI presents an opportunity for the city to get the perspective of leading casino operators and real estate developers on key issues that will be considered when it evaluates proposals for a Chicago casino and is a first step in bringing gaming and associated economic development to the city,” the mayor’s office said in an Aug. 27 statement.
“After securing favorable legislation that had eluded us for decades, Chicago can finally pursue a once in a generation opportunity to bring a casino to our city, generating hundreds of millions in new gaming revenues to shore up the city’s pension obligations and drive huge levels of infrastructure funding in Illinois as well as creating thousands of new and much needed jobs for local residents,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “This is the right time to begin having these discussions as we continue to lay the foundation to make a strong recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Following many unsuccessful attempts for decades, gaming expansion legislation was signed into law by the Illinois legislature in June 2019, authorizing a Chicago casino, however, the approved bill imposed an effective tax rate of approximately 72 percent making it nearly impossible to develop a profitable Chicago casino, according to a feasibility study published by Union Gaming Analytics. Earlier this year, Lightfoot redoubled efforts and worked with the state legislature to amend the law to lower the tax rates and make a Chicago casino a reality, the city statement said.
“Construction of a casino complex would become an economic driver for the region, attracting jobs and providing a boost to the Chicago entertainment and tourism industry,” said Jennie Bennett, Chicago Chief Financial Officer. “Importantly, it will generate new revenue which will be dedicated to the city’s police and fire pension funds and provide budgetary relief to the city’s corporate fund.”
RFI respondents will be asked to share their views on critical issues such as the requirements for operating a temporary casino, recommendations on the size and scope/physical footprint of a gaming complex, their vision for leveraging Chicago’s existing urban assets and how they imagine addressing COVID-19 as part of the development. The RFI is meant as a first step in the casino development process.
Responses to the RFI must be emailed to the city by Oct. 21 at firstname.lastname@example.org.