Ill. plan could include Chicago casino

December 7, 2010 (CHICAGO)

The current version of the bill calls for two new riverboat casinos in the suburbs and a land-based casino in the city of Chicago. ABC 7 took a look at where that casino might land.

Would State Street be a great street for a casino?

"It cheapens the city a lot. It's Chicago, that's just not who we are," said Gerri Somerville.

"I think a casino would be a good idea if it's going to benefit children, if it's going to help our educational system for the Chicago Public Schools, then great," said Danielle Davis.

Lobbyists pushing for a Chicago casino are telling lawmakers the unlucky and half-occupied development at Block 37 makes the most sense.

"This is available as we speak. We could have something up and running in a couple years," said Gerald Roper of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

Two blocks south of Block 37 on State Street, the former home of a Carson Pirie Scott store is another possibility. Some even suggest the state-owned Thompson Center could be a possibility. It bares some resemblance to Montreal's government-owned casino.

The Senate bill that passed last week calls for new casinos in the south suburbs, north suburban Park City, Rockford and Danville. In the House, legislative leaders tell ABC7 at the very least they're confident they can pass a smaller expansion of gambling, but one that would definitely include a casino in Chicago.

"I don't think we need to be the Las Vegas of the Midwest. I think we need a better way to go when it comes to the economy, and that means a good education and strong jobs," said Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

"Gov. Quinn ran on the fact he was a jobs governor. This is 17,000 jobs," said Roper.

Casino advocates say the Senate plan to expand gaming by two-thirds in Illinois could yield the state treasury an extra billion dollars a year. And in a state with a budget deficit that could reach $15 billion next year the dinging of slot machines could become the new sounds of the season.

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