Chicago is in line for casino gaming soon, but its success is dwindling as video gaming machines and sports betting rise.
The casino industry for decades has been a significant contributor to the Illinois economy, but from 2012 to 2022 its seen a $200 million decline, according to data from the Illinois Gaming Board.
One of the reasons for the decline is the emergence of other forms of gaming which weren’t available to Illinoisans in 2012. Video gaming terminals, for example, have nearly doubled from $395 million in revenue during 2019 to $762 million in 2022.
They allow players to place bets on video poker and slot machines in local bars and restaurants, providing a more accessible and convenient experience than casinos.
The Chicago City Council approved a casino development in the River West neighborhood. The generated revenue will exclusively pay for pension debt, but only an estimated 9% of what the city needs.
The Chicago City Council approved a $1.7 billion casino in a 41-7 vote May 25. The River West development is being touted as a pension solution, but even the highest projections show only a drop in the bucket.
“This one casino project will pay for approximately 9% of our $2.3 billion pension contribution and reduce the likelihood that the city will need to raise property taxes in the future for pensions,” said Jennie Huang Bennet, chief financial officer for the city.