Both candidates for Chicago mayor – Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson – would support the legalization of video gambling machines within their city limits if elected in the April 4 election. The candidates would thus change the practice of previous Chicago majors, who exclusively opted to have a brick-and-mortar casino established in the city limits, and expect to create an important revenue source for public investments.
Important revenue source:
According to WBEZ Chicago, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas said he would use ”a fair share” of the gambling revenue to fund investments in the city developments and considers the revenue ”the developer fee money.” Also, Brandon Johnson stated that he supports legalized video gambling ”as an important revenue source for critical investments in public safety, transportation, housing, and other public accommodations.”
Casino under construction:
These initiatives are made as the first-ever casino in the City of Chicago is being constructed after a successful mediation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot in the deal with the state regulators in 2019. The selected operator is Bally’s and the city officials expect that the casino to be located in the River West area will cash in close to $200 million in revenue to significantly stimulate public funding.
Video gambling proponents and opponents:
The source also reports that local casino operators have mostly been opposed to video gambling machines as they fear that this gambling form will affect the land-based casino revenue. The gambling mogul billionaire Neil Bluhm, who runs Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, is one of them. But his son, Andrew Bluhm, has already made some poker machines investments to testify to the market trends. He also donated $150,000 to the 2019 mayoral campaigns that supported legalized video gambling.
A veil of silence:
In the 2019 mayoral campaign, Paul Vallas had also supported video gambling but said through a spokesperson that he has not spoken to Andrew or Neil Bluhm about his post-election plans regarding the legalization of video gambling machines. At the same time, Andrew Bluhm said that he no longer has an interest in a video gambling terminal business in which he had been involved.
Chicago market potential:
According to data from the Illinois Gaming Board, the state of Illinois had a roughly $10.5 billion handle in video gambling machines in 2022. Out of the total amount wagered, the respective income generated by the municipalities with the machines amounted to $135.5 million in tax revenue. The Board also reported that the state currently has more than 45,100 video gambling terminals across more than 8,200 venues.
Video gambling has been growing rapidly since it began in 2012, and competent state bodies have noted that the legalization of terminals would significantly increase video gaming revenues. The mayor candidates Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson think the same and await the April 4 election to make the move.