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Chicago leader mulls video gambling legalisation

Ald. Pat O’Connor said that Chicago needs to take advantage of video gambling. Credits: istockphoto.com

The chairman of a finance committee said that the city could collect up to US$80 million from video gambling.

US.- Chicago’s Mayor Rham Emanuel has expressed his opposition against video gambling in the city as he feared that it would saturate challenged neighbourhoods. Now, Emanual floor leader Ald. Pat O’Connor said that it is time to face the current situation of video gambling as it could bring extra revenue.

O’Connor said that if Chicago citizens are not against the proliferation of illegal machines then it’s their turn to come up with a way that at least allows the city to get its share of the revenue. “While a casino is certainly something that people are looking at, that’s several years away. This is a much more immediate potential. It is a revenue source that could address pensions. It is a revenue source that, right now, is going on under our noses untapped,” O’Connor said on Monday, as revealed by Chicago Sun Times.

“It’s not a panacea. But most people are saying minimally, you’d be looking at US$80 million a year as a potential income. And that is before you would look at potentially changing the state formula for the share between municipalities and the state, which I believe is something the state would consider, given the potential to come into the city and basically increase their revenue significantly,” he added.

Despite the change of narrative from O’Connor, he said that the mayor remains opposed to the idea of legalising video gambling in Chicago: “It’s not a question of going against what he wants. He doesn’t like it in any sense. And he’s kind of embraced the casino because he thinks if it was down on the East Side where the other casino is, we could basically pick off the Chicagoans who were going there [to Hammond] anyway.”

O’Connor added that while the Council might disagree with him, and the mayor already against the idea, factually speaking video gambling is a legitimate place to look for new revenue.

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