Former Chicago Police Chief in Mayoral Race Wants Casino at O’Hare International

Posted on: April 3, 2018, 06:00h. 

Last updated on: April 3, 2018, 04:11h.

Chicago Mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy wants a casino at O’Hare International Airport. The former Chicago police chief told WBBM-AM’s At Issue program that an airport casino would be a big money-spinner for the city, without any of the negatives a regular urban casino might bring.

Chicago Mayoral candidate Garry McCarthy
Former Chicago Police chief Garry McCarthy is running for mayor against his former friend Rahm Emanuel, still smarting from his sacking in 2015 over the death of Laquan McDonald. McCarthy wants to revisit the idea of a casino at O’Hare International. (Image: NBC Chicago)

The former Chicago police chief announced his intention to run for mayor two weeks ago. He will be challenging incumbent mayor Rahm Emanuel, the man who fired him in 2015 under political pressure following the shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke.

Mayor for O’Hare

A casino at the airport has been in the cards for some time, and has been a campaign promise of several previous mayors, including Emanuel. But casino legislation has proved a sluggish mover in the Illinois legislature in recent years.

Nevertheless, McCarthy will revisit the idea, he said this week.

“The issue with a casino in the city, my understanding, was all of the problems it causes in the community. How about we put a casino in O’Hare Airport where now it’s for travelers coming through and it’s not going to affect the community, and anybody who goes there has to go through TSA?” McCarthy said.

“That’s going to eliminate the issue of the downside of not being able to control what happens, you know, whether it’s organized crime, prostitution, narcotics or whatever it is and, at the same time, that’s going to generate revenue,” he continued.

.“How many people come through O’Hare and have layovers, and have to sit around for hours and hours and hours?” he asked. “If they’re sitting at a blackjack table, there’s going to be revenue generated.”

Illinois’ Grand Bargain

Illinois’ gambling sector is restricted to riverboat casinos along Lake Michigan and the Illinois River. Last year, a bill that would have created land-based casino licenses in six regions in the state was quashed in the legislature.

The bill was part of a sprawling, bi-partisan compromise plan to fix a budget impasse and ease the state’s economic woes. Dubbed the “grand bargain” it would have established a large casino resort in Chicago, as well as slot machines at O’Hare, and additional slots at the riverboat casinos to compensate for expansion elsewhere.

But the grand bargain foundered in the Senate. That chamber’s President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) accused State Governor Bruce Rauner of “injecting himself into the proceedings” and hijacking the deal.

On the occasion the legislature did pass a bill that would have created a Chicago casino, in 2012, it was “hijacked” by another governor, Patt Quinn.

The then-governor vetoed the measure, claiming it contained “loopholes for mobsters.”