A Chicago Casino Can Be a Good Bet, If It's Done Right
The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is a long-time advocate for a Chicago land-based casino and firmly believes in the economic benefits of gaming expansion. Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jerry Roper made the case for a downtown Chicago casino as a tool to boost the city's economic vibrancy today on Reboot Illinois’ website, featured below:
As the likelihood of a Chicago casino increases after over 20 years of debate, the most important aspect to focus on is that it be done right. Chicago is not Las Vegas or Atlantic City, and a Chicago casino should reflect, support and enhance the economic development of a world-class metropolis. Many world-class European cities have gaming venues in the heart of their city center and provide a much better example for Chicago to pursue.
In short, that means no matter what magnitude of gaming tax revenue it brings to the city, county and state, that should pale in comparison to the broader economic development benefits to tourism, convention/meetings, theater, shopping, entertainment and related spin-off impacts.
The revenues will essentially be 100% tax since the Chicago casino will be publicly owned, maximizing the net return to city, county and state.
“Doing it right” means:
- Locate it in the heart of downtown where it can enhance Chicago’s tourism competitive advantage, utilize existing infrastructure, bolster existing theaters, restaurants, hotels and shopping venues, and leverage the inherent assets of a world-class city.
- Make it something we are proud to have as part of our urban portfolio just as Montreal’s Casino de Quebec is touted by its civic leaders as the jewel in its skyline and featured in Air Canada newsprint marketing ads for the city.
- Leverage the opportunity to recapture Chicago’s preeminent competitive position as a business and tourist destination.
- Set the metrics high and craft the framework properly to attract the gaming industry companies who will be the best business partners for Chicago, bringing their professional relationships and alliances to fill our theaters with world-class productions, enhance our destination retail offerings and provide a gaming experience not yet seen in any major urban city environment.
Done right, a downtown casino is a powerful economic development tool. The city’s leadership should be focused on how to leverage this economic engine to realize true and lasting benefits as an investment in Chicago. Gaming tax revenue is a welcome vehicle for the mayor and the governor in today’s fiscal environment – but for the civic and business leadership, the prize must be real and sustained economic development.