Mayor Rahm Emanuel suggested the best place for a Chicago casino would be the city’s Far Southeast Side, saying it shouldn’t go Downtown or near McCormick Place as most observers believed.
On Wednesday, Emanuel floated the idea of finally bringing gambling to the city. It was part of a package of initiatives designed to help Chicago address its ballooning pension obligations. Among the other initiatives was legalizing marijuana.
In an with the Chicago Tribune, the mayor said a casino should bring economic development to an area of the city that needs it, possibly on Illinois International Port District property near Pullman.
The Southeast Side site would sit just west of a cluster of casinos over the border in Northwest Indiana that receive millions of dollars in business from Chicago gamblers, Emanuel said.
Building a casino on the site near McCormick Place could hurt the city’s convention business, he said, because unlike in Las Vegas or Orlando, “people come to the shows here to do business.” Gambling, he added, would distract from that.
Emanuel, who is not running for reelection, acknowledged the decision about where to locate a casino would ultimately fall to his successor. The earliest the Legislature could legalize gambling in the city — the only municipality in Illinois where state law bans it — would be in the spring. Emanuel’s term ends in April. [Chicago Tribune] — John O’Brien
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