Illinois Casino Expansion Bill Passes Senate Vote

Illinois Senate lawmakers approved earlier this week a bill that provides for the construction of up to six land-based casinos across the state. The proposed legislation is now headed to the House.

Sponsored by Sen. Dave Syverson, the bill’s potential signing into law is projected to result in millions of dollars being generated for the state’s General Revenue Fund to support the local economy.

Under the discussed piece of legislation, Rockford will be one of the cities to host a brick-and-mortar casino. According to initial plan, the gambling venue will be built at the site of the city’s Clock Tower Resort. Built in the 1960s, the former hotel, entertainment, and convention complex would be demolished and replaced by a modern casino venue.

Here it is also important to note that the Clock Tower Resort site was purchased earlier this month by a group of investors for the amount of $3.6 million. Developers are ready to commence construction work on a casino any time should the bill pass all legislative hurdles.

The legislative piece needs to survive a House vote before the end of this year’s legislative session. The Illinois Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 31.

SB 7, the Sen. Syverson-sponsored proposal, was previously part of a larger package of legislative efforts, dubbed the “Grand Bargain”. The pieces contained different proposals, all aiming to solve a more than two-year budget impasse that has cast a gloomy shadow over Illinois’ economy.

The casino expansion bill was discussed as a separate piece in the upper house of the state’s General Assembly on Wednesday. Prior to that, it had been amended to be untied from the whole package.

Commenting on the positive Senate vote, Sen. Syverson said that the bill being eventually signed into law would be “an absolute game changer” as this would generate multiple new jobs and boost economic activity not only in the regions that will host the casinos, but also in the state as a whole.

If SB 7 gains the required support, the gambling status quo in the state will change significantly. Under current law, casino gambling can only be provided on riverboats. If land-based casinos are built, the current taxation system will also be amended. Riverboats are taxed at up to 50% of their revenue. Under the proposed bill, casino-style gambling venues will will pay 16% on table games and 20% on slot machines.

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