Chicago Mayor Asks City Residents to Help Decide Casino Location, Design Resort Complex

Posted on: July 29, 2019, 09:46h. 

Last updated on: July 29, 2019, 11:33h.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) is asking city residents through an online survey for their input on where a casino resort should be located and what amenities it should feature.

Chicago casino resort Illinois gaming
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants Windy City residents to help decide where a casino should be erected. (Image: Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty)

Lightfoot, who became the city’s first black female mayor when she won the election in April, unveiled an 11-question survey last week that seeks various feedback on the location of the casino, the resort’s accompanying features, the primary economic incentive of authorizing the property, and relevant concerns with the development.

“To learn more about what Chicagoans want to see in a new casino, today we are launching a survey that will give our residents a voice in informing how this development can drive the maximum benefit for all communities,” Lightfoot explained. “While the prospect of a new casino holds tremendous potential for generating new revenues and stimulating economic opportunity for Chicago, we are committed to a transparent process for ensuring all voices can be heard as the City moves forward on this historic project.”

Chicago was allocated a casino through the $45 billion infrastructure package Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed into law in June. The gaming space is approved for 4,000 “positions” – the number of seats in front of a slot machine or table game.

Along with the Windy City license, the expanded gaming bill earmarks five smaller casinos for Waukegan, Rockford, South Suburbs, Williamson County, and Danville.

Survey Says

Pritzker has stated he would prefer the Chicago casino to be built not downtown, but in an area that has “been left out” and needs an economic stimulant. Lightfoot seems to agree, as her five possible sites for the integrated resort are all in deficient neighborhoods.

Her SurveyMonkey questionnaire includes input on what should be “the most important benefit of opening a casino in Chicago?” Answers include increased employment, increased tax revenue, increased tourism, increased recreational opportunities, boost the local economy, and contribute to the city’s police and fire pension funds.

The survey also asks respondents about the ideal location for the casino. Answers include “near downtown,” “far from downtown,” “within an existing neighborhood commercial corridor,” and “in a location that will generate new development.”

The survey is anonymous and allows anyone – regardless of whether one is actually a city resident – to complete the form.

Matter of Opinions

Global Market Advisors’ 2015 white paper “Casinos and the City” concluded that gaming properties shouldn’t be primarily used to spur economic growth in a downtrodden area. The consulting firm found that “urban casinos developed in the latter part of the 20th century failed to integrate themselves into their host communities, did not stimulate economic and commercial activity in their host neighborhoods, and essentially became islands within the greater urban landscape.”

Major casino resorts, such as the one anticipated for Chicago, tend to be all-encompassing complexes that seek to keep their patrons inside their doors. They feature everything from gaming and entertainment, to spas and recreational activities, to nightlife and overnight accommodations.

Global Market Advisors calls the integrated resorts “the island casino,” a term that refers to complexes that are “self-contained developments.”

Union Gaming has been hired by the city to conduct a feasibility review of potential locations.