Chicago’s casino nearly $10M short of 2023 expectations

Chicago’s casino nearly $10M short of 2023 expectations

Bally’s temporary casino in Medinah Temple handed Chicago $3 million since its opening in September, $9.6 million below original projections.

Chicago’s gambling revenue from Bally’s temporary casino underperformed by $9.6 million compared to the anticipated forecast.

The casino averaged $776,582 in local tax revenue per month in 2023. Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s 2024 budget assumes the city will net $35 million in local tax revenue from the casino, or nearly $3 million a month.

The casino was initially projected to create $12.8 million in tax revenue for 2023. However, the actual figure was a mere $3.1 million, despite the casino operating round-the-clock since late December with nearly 800 slot machines, 56 gaming tables and additional amenities.

Bally’s permanent location in River West is projected to bring in $200 million in annual revenue, which is dedicated to police and fire pensions. That seems questionable, considering the meager returns from the temporary location.

In the best-case scenario, the permanent Bally’s location would only pay for 9% of the city’s annual pension payments. If it falls short of that, the city will need new revenue, which always means more taxes from residents.

Instead of chasing endless revenue sources, state lawmakers can step up with structural pension reform, freeing up billions in the future for core services, property tax relief or a combination of both. Johnson could champion that solution with state lawmakers.

A “hold harmless” pension plan developed by the Illinois Policy Institute can save taxpayers nearly $2.4 billion in its first year and nearly $50 billion through 2045. It would solve the pension crisis in Chicago and the entire state.

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