A little over a week after the Illinois State Senate passed a proposed measure that could see the Midwestern state license up to six new casinos, and leaders for the city of Springfield have reportedly sent a letter to state legislators asking for the right to host a gambling venue of their own offering up to 900 gaming positions.
According to a report from The State Journal-Register newspaper, the letter was signed by Mayor Jim Langfelder along with eight of the ten aldermen on the Springfield City Council before being sent to members of the Illinois House Of Representatives, Illinois State Senate and Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.
The newspaper reported that roughly 40% of the buildings in downtown Springfield are not generating property taxes and the letter asserts that licensing a casino would reverse this trend by creating jobs and boosting other area businesses in the Illinois city of 116,250.
“The authorization of a casino license for the city of Springfield will hopefully reverse the loss of jobs and the erosion of our tax base over the last 20-plus years,” read the letter.
The State Journal-Register estimated that opening a casino in downtown Springfield could bring in about $100 million in annual tax revenues while the letter additionally outlined how the city’s portion of approximately $24.4 million would be divvied up with cash to be set aside for the local school district, the Prairie Capitol Convention Center, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library And Museum and the State Fairgrounds Foundation.
“It’s something that is a lot easier sell when you’re talking about carve-outs; what should go to gaming funds and what should go to Springfield to help rebuild and revitalize,” lobbyist and local developer Chris Stone told the newspaper.
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The State Journal-Register reported that Stone is pushing for the right to build and operate a downtown Springfield casino with up to 1,200 gaming positions that he asserted would benefit the city to the tune of about $30 million a year. He allegedly declared that the letter could help to convince legislators to back his venture while Langfelder told the newspaper that he would put the final decision of whether to open a downtown gambling venue before voters if state legislators granted a license.
“We’d like to have a seat at the table, so to speak,” Langfelder told The State Journal-Review. “These opportunities only come around every so often.”
The proposed legislation passed on May 17 by the Illinois State Senate, which does not mention Springfield, would see the Illinois cities of Rockford and Danville granted the right to bid for a casino license while it could moreover lead to such establishments opening in Lake County and Chicago suburbs such as Orland Park, Oak Lawn or Chicago Heights.