Illinois General Assembly amends Chicago Casino Tax Structure

Illinois General Assembly amends Chicago Casino Tax Structure

Pushing the long-awaited Chicago casino project closer to reality, members of the Illinois General Assembly amended casino tax structure for the city after state lawmakers agreed to trim down its tax responsibilities.

The Windy City businesses have been under lockdown since mid of March this year, after state authorities issued “stay-at-home” order as part of the efforts to curb deadly corona virus pandemic that has infected millions of Americans and left many of them dead.

Amendments in the tax structure for Chicago casinos was part of a roughly $40 billion proposed budget that got the Illinois General Assembly’s approval over the past weekend. The Chicago casino measure, House Bill 516, was made part of that budget package. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Democrat) campaigned aggressively to make lawmakers to reconsider how the proposed Chicago casino will be licensed and taxed.
Under Illinois original law, the Chicago casino would be taxed at a rate of 72 per cent. The effective tax on the entertainment property’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) is based on a 38.7 per cent tax rate on casino win, in addition to a 33.3 per cent “privilege tax” that funds pensions for first responders. The review was conducted by the Las Vegas gaming consultancy Union Gaming that was commissioned by Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

Along with the previous exorbitant tax rate, the proposed Chicago casino operator would be required to pay $15 million and $120 million in upfront license fee and in gambling position fees, respectively. In addition, it would have to pay $30,000 in one-time fee.

The tax restructuring is, however, expected to decrease the amount of tax revenue to be received by Illinois by $850 million to $500 million per annum.

Commenting on tax restructuring, bill sponsor Rep. Bob Rita (D) said, “The idea is to make this work for Chicago, so that we could fund a vertical capital bill, put people to work. Not only for Chicago, but for everywhere in the entire state of Illinois… This is good for everyone for jobs and development – having a Chicago casino be real.”

The amendment in Chicago casino tax structure was part of Illinois lawmakers and Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” plan, which proposes massive spending on infrastructure to provide a much-needed boost to local economy. Chicago entertainment properties have thus far been discouraged by excessive burden of taxes. That is why, lawmakers decided to trim down the exorbitant tax rates to make Chicago attractive to casino operators.

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