Illinois Lawmakers Approve Casino Legislation Pushed by Chicago Mayor

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Illinois lawmakers have approved an approximately $40 billion state budget that largely maintains spending, along with a plan to push forward a Chicago casino.

The budget, which largely relies on federal funding, mostly maintains funding from the current budget, which the exception of health care agencies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House vote was 68-44 and was largely along party lines. Senate Republicans also voted against the plan, objecting to a small spending spike during a time of uncertainty. The Senate vote was 37-19.

The new spending plans included up to $5 billion in loans from a Federal Reserve program designed to help during the pandemic.

Legislators also approved a plan pushed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to change the tax structure for a casino in the city. The Chicago casino was included in last year’s gambling expansion authorizing six new casinos, part of a critical funding source for the state’s $45 billion capital plan.

However, an experts’ study found the tax structure would make it difficult for the Chicago casino to be profitable. Along with altering the tax structure, the new plan delays the deadline for casino applicants to pay license fees.

“The idea is to make this work for Chicago, so that we could fund a vertical capital (bill), put people to work. Not only for Chicago but for everywhere in the entire state of Illinois. This is good for everyone for jobs and development — having a Chicago casino be real,” Blue Island Democratic Rep. Bob Rita said.

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