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Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association (9/19)

2012 Gaming Legislation FAQ


What Does SB 1849 Do?

SB 1849 calls for new casinos in Chicago, Lake County, south suburban Chicago, Rockford and Danville; additional slot machines at existing casinos and the addition of slot machines at the state’s six horseracing tracks.

Widespread Public Support:

According to a recent statewide poll, when asked if they would “support or oppose a proposal to generate revenues to state and local governments by increasing the number of slot machines allowed at riverboats, allowing slot machines at racetracks, and by adding a land-based Chicago casino and four additional riverboat casinos,” 62 percent of voters responded that they supported it, compared to 33 percent who opposed it.

Support for SB 1849 is highest in the Collar Counties where 70 percent of respondents favor the proposal, but support is strong throughout Illinois: 68 percent in favor in Northern Illinois; 61 percent in favor in Southern Illinois; 60 percent in favor in Cook County; and 54 percent in favor in Central Illinois.

The most popular components of SB 1849 were increasing the number of slot machines at existing riverboats (69 percent) and allowing slot machines at the state’s six horse racing tracks (68 percent). Meanwhile, 64 percent favor authorizing four new casinos in Danville, Lake County, Rockford and the south suburbs and 62 percent support authorizing a land-based casino in Chicago.

According to the poll, 55 percent added that they would be more likely to vote for a state legislator who supported gaming expansion in the next election, compared to 30 percent who would be less likely to vote for a lawmaker who opposed it. “Illinoisans are sending a loud and clear message that they strongly support gaming legislation that will bring sorely needed economic benefits throughout the state during these challenging budget times. They have no appetite for lawmakers raising taxes or cutting essential programs like education, health care and safety net services that impact our most vulnerable residents. This legislation is an attractive solution that comes at absolutely no cost to taxpayers. It’s clear that Illinois residents favor initiatives aimed at creating jobs and increasing revenue.

Creating More Jobs

Illinois will also realize economic benefits through the expansion outlined in SB 1849, the study indicated. The legislation would create 20,451 new jobs and more than $1.5 billion in personal income, including 9,800 full-time direct jobs with $323 million in annual wages as well as more than 4,500 construction-related jobs, translating into nearly $475 million in wages, benefits and taxes.

Generating More Revenue

According to the Spectrum report, projected gross gaming revenue in Illinois would reach $3.28 billion annually by 2016 if SB 1849 were enacted – a 75 percent increase over the $1.87 billion projected if no expansion occurred. SB 1849 would translate into a total of $809.2 million per year in taxes and admission fees for the state, or an increase of $195.3 million, the study found. In addition, the state would receive an additional reconciliation payment of $1.17 billion and $377 million in initial licensing fees.

“Expanding gaming would bring in new revenue to help stabilize the state’s finances and provide sorely needed dollars for education, capital projects and safety-net programs without raising taxes.”

Recapturing Illinois Dollars

Without the enactment of SB 1849, other states will continue to capitalize on gaming dollars from Illinois residents, who continue to spend close to $1.5 billion in out-of-state gaming venues. SB 1849 would result in Illinois recapturing approximately $644 million from those out-of-state casinos each year by 2016, according to estimates in the report.

“Illinois cannot afford to continue the bleed of gaming dollars across our border to place bets in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. For far too long, our neighbors have used Illinois dollars to grow and expand their businesses, build roads, construct schools, and provide essential services to their residents.”

Meeting Market Demand

Spectrum found that Illinois has 728 adults per gaming position as compared to its neighbors in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri, which have a combined average of 159 adults per gaming position. In other words, Illinois currently has 4.6 times as many adults per gaming position compared to the average of the three surrounding states. If SB 1849 took effect, Illinois would have 266 adults per gaming position, which is still much higher than those other states, the report noted.

In addition, Illinois currently ranks first in the nation among commercial-gaming states in average “win per day” for slot machines. The benchmark industry range is between $200 and $300. Among the 18 states that currently have slot machines, Illinois’ win per unit is $325, significantly higher than the second highest, which is Pennsylvania at $307, and well above the national state average of $178.

The Veto

Though the Governor vetoed SB1849 on August 28, 2012, SB 3925 contains those things that the Governor mentions in his veto message to SB 1849 as desirable. SB 3925 includes: 1) a contribution ban on clearly defined gaming licensees and their affiliates, 2) extensive oversight by the Gaming Board over the Chicago casino and newly licensed racinos, and 3) money for Illinois education - all of which are listed in the veto message as initiatives that the Governor would like to see become law. Passage of SB 3925 along with the override of the Governor's veto will finally resolve the issue of gaming expansion in Illinois.


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