Yet another Chicago mayoral candidate pitches gambling expansion idea for the city’s O’Hare and Midway airports
Chicago mayoral candidate Susana Mendoza said on Friday that she is open to the installation of slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports as a means for additional revenue, local news outlet the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
The Chicago mayoral election is set to take place on February 26, 2019, and Ms. Mendoza has been the third candidate for the mayoral chair to suggest the authorization of one form of gambling or another at the city’s airports.
Ms. Mendoza spoke yesterday for the WLS-AM (890) Connected to Chicago radio program. Asked by host Bill Cameron where she stood on the video gaming issue, the mayoral candidate said that she would be “open to slots at the airports […] where tourists are coming.” She pointed out that she does not want expanded casino or video gaming in communities where there already are significant social issues, but noted that the city might be missing out on gaming revenue at its airports.
Ms. Mendoza also said that if gaming gets expanded on the territory of Chicago, including at airports, that would happen in a responsible manner.
Mayoral candidates Garry McCarthy and Ja’Mal Green have, too, previously spoken in favor of gambling expansion at the city’s airports. Unlike Ms. Mendoza, who supports video gambling at O’Hare and Midway, the other two have pitched ideas for the opening of casinos.
Will Gaming Expansion at Airports Solve Chicago’s Pension Crisis?
While both casinos and video gambling machines could be a source for revenue, under Illinois law, all of the revenue from gambling conducted at airports can only be used to fund airport projects. In other words, any form of gambling expansion at O’Hare and Midway would not help Chicago solve its pensions crisis, which is growing into a more and more pressing issue.
WLS host Bill Cameron said that Ms. Mendoza pitched a plan that would see slot machines at airports contribute revenue for pensions. However, a spokesperson for the mayoral candidate clarified later on Friday that Ms. Mendoza is not looking to secure pensions revenue from slots at city airports.
Video gaming is currently prohibited in Chicago. Outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been a staunch opponent of gaming machines, fearing that they could oversaturate the local market. On the other hand, the city’s top official has been a long-time supporter of the establishment of a casino in Chicago.
He said recently that he would made one final push for the authorization of a new casino within city limits before he leaves office next spring. The gambling venue would contribute revenue to pensions exclusively. Mayor Emanuel even suggested a site for the property. According to him a casino in downtown would not be a good idea as it would hurt the city’s thriving convention business. The Mayor wants to build the casino on a site in the Illinois International Port District in the Southeast Side of Chicago instead.
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