Like the freshly planted crops this time of year, the annual gambling expansion proposal grows and grows to gain support from different legislators. The latest additions finally worked.
The House passed SB744 over the weekend with enticements of $25 million for county fairs, soil and water conservation districts, ag research, forestry and parks. There is also supposed to be job creation, money for education and capital projects, revenue to save the horse racing industry and repair the state fairgrounds, and revenue to bolster the City of Chicago. There will be an estimated $1.5 billion in tax revenue with initial licenses and $442 million on an annual basis. Considering taxes on gaming take about 30 percent of the gross receipts, gamblers will be taking a lot of money out of the economy for this new entertainment.
SB 744 authorizes casinos in Chicago and 4 locations by the state borders to capture gamblers who currently visit out-of-state facilities. Electronic gaming will be added to horse racetracks like most successful facilities in other states. In all, gambling positions in the state could more than triple.
So now we will see if all the hype and promises of expanded gaming in Illinois are real or if existing gamblers simply have more choices of places to play.