The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

April 17, 2012

Casino study shows job gains

DANVILLE — Ward 7 Alderman Bill Black says a study by the Illinois Revenue and Jobs Alliance “helps make the point we’ve been trying to for five years.”

The point he is referring to is that the addition of casinos in Danville and elsewhere won’t saturate the market.

A newly released independent study estimates that pending legislation in Springfield would, if enacted into law, generate up to $200 million in additional tax revenue for the state each year and create nearly 20,500 jobs throughout Illinois with the addition of a Danville casino and four others.

The report, conducted by the Spectrum Gaming Group and commissioned by the Illinois Revenue & Jobs Alliance, shows Illinois is an underserved gaming market that can easily support additional gaming, according to a press release from IRJA.

“These figures indicate there is a strong demand for more gaming in Illinois and that we have room to grow before the state even comes close to market saturation,” said Black, chairman of the Illinois Jobs and Revenue Alliance, a former legislator and current Danville alderman who served for nearly 25 years in the Illinois General Assembly, in an IRJA press release.

“With the governor’s signature, Illinois can comfortably expand gaming with new casinos and slots at racetracks and reap significant economic benefits and new jobs the state sorely needs,” Black said.

Senate Bill 1849 calls for new casinos in Danville, Chicago, Lake County, south suburban Chicago and Rockford; as well as adding slot machines to the state’s six horseracing tracks, where gaming has existed for over 100 years.

Gov. Pat Quinn has said he could accept five new casinos; however, he’s opposed racetrack slot machines and he also has wanted new ethics rules and tighter state control over gambling.

The IRJA study follows a report by the Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability that found the state would receive an additional $444 million in additional tax revenue each year if SB 1849 were signed into law.

According to the Spectrum report, projected gross gaming revenue in Illinois would reach $3.28 billion annually by 2016 if SB 1849 were enacted — a 75 percent increase from the $1.87 billion projected if no expansion occurred, according to the IRJA.

SB 1849 would translate into a total of $809.2 million per year in taxes and admission fees for the state, or an increase of $195.3 million, the study found. In addition, the state would receive an additional reconciliation payment of $1.17 billion and $377 million in initial licensing fees.

“Expanding gaming would bring in new revenue to help stabilize the state’s finances and provide sorely needed dollars for education, capital projects and safety-net programs without raising taxes,” Black said in the release.

SB 1849, the study indicated, would create 20,451 new jobs and more than $1.5 billion in personal income, including 9,800 full-time jobs with $323 million in annual wages as well as more than 4,500 construction-related jobs, translating into nearly $475 million in wages, benefits and taxes.

The Spectrum analysis projected that the expansion allowing for slots at horseracing venues would create 2,723 full-time jobs at racetracks and 1,038 full-time construction-related jobs at those venues.

Additionally, SB 1849 would provide a stable foundation for the preservation of nearly 37,000 agribusiness jobs — according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture — located throughout Illinois, including farmers and breeders. It’s estimated that an additional 5,000 agribusiness jobs would be created under SB 1849.

“SB 1849 is a win for the state and Illinois residents, generating more than $1.5 billion in personal income earned through creating more than 20,000 new jobs at no cost to taxpayers,” said Henry Tamarin, president of UniteHere! Local 1 and IRJA member, in the press release. “This proposal will put people back to work, especially in central and southern Illinois, where agribusiness jobs are a significant driver of local economies.”

Illinois residents continue to spend close to $1.5 billion in out-of-state gaming venues, the study found.

“Illinois cannot afford to continue the bleed of gaming dollars across our border to place bets in Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri,” said Jerry Roper, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and IRJA member. “For far too long, our neighbors have used Illinois dollars to build their roads, construct schools and provide essential services to their residents.”

SB 1849 would result in Illinois recapturing approximately $644 million from those out-of-state casinos each year by 2016, according to estimates in the report.

In addition, Spectrum employed a second measure that found that Illinois has a significantly higher number of adults per gaming position (728) than its neighbors in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri (a combined average of 159 adults per gaming position).

If SB 1849 took effect, Illinois would have 266 adults per gaming position, which is still much higher than those other states, the report noted.

Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey firm that said it has no financial interest in casino expansion, performed the alliance’s study. It also said it does not skew its studies to reflect the interests of sponsors.

The IRJA is a statewide consortium of labor organizations, business groups, farming and agribusiness interests, racetracks and horsemen associations, and local municipalities committed to the passage of SB 1849 which calls for the expansion of gaming in Illinois, including slot machines at racetracks.

The IRJA is committed to creating new jobs, protecting existing jobs spurring new economic development and generating more revenue for the state.

For more information, visit http://www.IllinoisJobsAlliance.org.

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