Illinois lawmakers quietly passed a gambling expansion measure in the State Senate last week.
But analysts aren’t getting their hopes up.
The bill would allow four new riverboat casinos in the state and a major downtown Chicago casino. Also, the state’s five racetracks could add slot machines and existing riverboat casinos could expand their gambling floors. The tax rate on gaming would also be lowered.
The measure moves to the Illinois House of Representatives in January, but Janney Montgomery Scott gaming analyst Brian McGill said it’s unclear how the bill will be received.
He said Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has come out against it, but he hasn’t completely ruled out letting the bill become law without his signature.
The bill would allow another 25,000 slots throughout the state. However, given market saturation, McGill said 15,000 to 18,000 slot machines is more realistic number.
“It still remains to be seen what will happen in January, but any action would need to be passed by January 11th,” McGill said. “The downside to the expansion for the existing operators is this may end up being too much gaming for the state.”
Union Gaming Group Principal Bill Lerner echoed McGill’s sentiments.
“We believe that such a massive expansion of gaming as proposed could be politically challenging,” Lerner said. “In addition, the state is already embarking on gaming expansion in the form of video slots at bars, restaurants and truck stops.”