Illinois adding casinos, but video gaming pays over 3X as much tax

Illinois adding casinos, but video gaming pays over 3X as much tax

Illinois is on pace for four new casinos in 2023, but the state’s tax payout from video gambling in local bars and restaurants remains a much bigger win.

Illinois could have two new casinos in Chicago and Cartersville by the end of 2023, marking the third and fourth new casinos of the year after Waukegan and Danville.

But tax revenue isn’t growing as quickly as locations. Illinois casinos brought in more than $30 million in tax revenue during the month of May, slightly up from $29 million from May 2022.

While residents gambling in casinos still brings in revenue, it’s much less than gambling outside casinos. So far in 2023, casinos brought in nearly $96 million in tax revenue for the state and nearly $35 million for local governments, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

For comparison, the state’s 45,000 video gaming terminals at bars and restaurants brought in $353 million for the state and nearly $61 million for local governments.

While Chicago’s new casino won’t be ready until 2026, a temporary casino in the River North neighborhood is in its final stage before approval by the Illinois Gaming Board while the permanent location is built.

In the best-case scenario, Chicago’s permanent casino would bring in $200 million a year, exclusively going toward police and firefighter pensions.

But that would only cover 9% of the city’s annual pension payment, so the city would still need enough revenue to address the other 91%. Chicago has more pension debt than 44 states.

A “hold harmless” pension reform plan such as one developed by the Illinois Policy Institute – based loosely on bipartisan 2013 reforms – could help eliminate the city and state’s unfunded pension liability and achieve retirement security for pensioners. The 2013 reforms were rejected by the Illinois Supreme Court, which is why reform requires a change to the Illinois Constitution.

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