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Without Chicago, Illinois Poker May Fall Short $178 Million A Year

Posted On: 3/28/2010

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SPRINGFIELD, IL -- The Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability has issued a forecast that projects tax receipts from video lottery terminals may fall short by anywhere from $95 million to $178 million a year, or almost $2 billion over a decade, if the state's planned VLT industry does not operate in Chicago.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Video Gaming Act last July as part of a legislation package aimed at raising $31 billion for major building projects statewide. The legal gaming market is expected to go online by the end of this year. But the law gives towns, cities and counties the option of participating in the video lottery market. To date, some 60 local jurisdictions have opted out.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was believed to be an early supporter of legalizing location-based gaming, but in February he caused a flap by telling a reporter that there had been "no discussion" of repealing the Windy City's ban on the devices.

The forecasting commission predicted that if Chicago does legalize video poker, the machines in the city could generate $475 million annually. The state would get 35% of the estimated gross, or $178 million, with 5%, or $24 million, going to the city.

The Huffington Post said Daley's lack of eagerness to embrace legal poker might be due partly to the fact that it's an election year; gambling is "especially unpopular" among the "powerful downtown clergy."