Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has extended the deadline for the willing gambling companies to submit their proposal for a proposed casino. The move has come at a time when the city has been struggling to attract interest in the casino project.
As revealed by Ms. Lightfoot a couple of days ago, the city of Chicago will extend its deadline to October 29th, 2021. Originally, interested parties in applying for a casino operating license had until August 23rd to make an official submission of their proposals to competent authorities. The Mayor of Chicago shared that the deadline extension is set to allow the city to collect as many applications and proposals for its first-ever casino as possible.
Some of the largest casino operators, such as MGM Resorts, have already revealed they had no interest in making a bid for the project. On the other hand, local companies such as Rush Street Gaming and Related Midwest, have shared they were interested in a potential casino establishment. However, according to experts, smaller local companies’ competition could raise some potentially uncomfortable questions because of the long-time friendship between the daughter of Rush Street Gaming’s Chairman and Mayor Lightfoot.
Rush Street Gaming already operates a gambling venue – Des Plaines-based Rivers Casino in partnership with Churchill Downs.
Gambling Operators Remain Skeptical about Chicago Mega-Casino Establishment
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, the revenue that could be generated by a Chicago casino could be crucial for the city, as city officials have been hopeful that the proceeds would help them reduce future budget shortfalls.
A study in the potential city casino that was held in the summer of 2019 highlighted the advantages of a gambling venue situated in downtown Chicago in close proximity to hotels and other tourist attractions instead of a location in outlying neighborhoods of the city. However, supporting a mega-casino and entertainment complex in the part of the city featuring the prevalent number of landmarks could turn out to be tricky for Chicago’s Mayor.
The aforementioned study, which pointed out the merits of pursuing to establish a casino in a location in downtown Chicago, also warned that the project could fail to attract potential developers because the original tax structure that had been approved by state lawmakers was extremely heavy and would have only left the potential casino owner with very small profit margins. Ms. Lightfoot was an eager lobbyist seeking some changes in the tax structure, which were eventually brought by state lawmakers during their shorter legislative session in 2020. The tax decrease has been considered as one of the biggest victories of Lightfoot since taking over the mayoral position.
Although Chicago has been a preferred destination by many tourists, the casino operators have remained skeptical towards the mega-casino proposal, partly because of the aforementioned tax burden. On the other hand, casino venues are facing new competition due to the legalization of sports betting and video gambling in the state of Illinois.
Thanks to the gambling expansion bill that was signed into law by Governor Pritzker in 2019, six new casino venues have been allowed to be established in the state of Illinois. Some of the other locations, such as Rockford and Waukegan, have already moved forward with the process, while Chicago falls a little behind but city officials still remain hopeful for the future of the proposed casino.