The suburban Chicago city of Des Plaines is off the hook for $5 million of its annual tax paid to the state of Illinois.
Earlier this month, the state House and Senate approved a measure to reduce Des Plaines’ tax bill from $10 million annually to $5 million. The state established the tax provision when Rivers Casino opened in 2011 to redistribute revenue to other nearby suburban communities without a casino.
Expansion, competition the reasons for new measure
While Illinois online casinos remain illegal, new retail casinos have recently opened in the state and more will soon follow. These casinos will help shoulder the tax weight Rivers once carried solo.
Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law the Illinois Sports Wagering Act in 2019, paving the way for unprecedented gambling expansion in The Prairie State. The bill legalized Illinois sports betting and allowed for six new in-state casinos, including three within 50 miles of Rivers Des Plaines.
- South Suburbs
Rivers’ original provisions accounted for providing funding to the 10 South Suburbs communities, an area without a casino revenue stream. Now, Wind Creek Chicago Southland Casino is on pace to open as early as July 2024 in Homewood.
Additionally, temporary facilities at Bally’s Chicago in downtown Chicago and The Temporary by American Place Casino in Waukegan opened earlier this year. Legislators believed the increased competition would likely cut into Rivers’ profits.
‘Like a $5 million bonanza’
Efforts to reduce Des Plaines’ tax provision began concurrently with gambling expansion in 2019, led by state Rep. Mary Moylan of Des Plaines and state Sen. Laura Murphy.
The gambling expansion bill did not require new Illinois casinos to pay a $10 million annual host community tax. Communities now have multiple casinos to contribute to their well-being.
As a result, Moylan and Murphy argued that Des Plaines should have its load lightened. Their colleagues largely agreed, and after years of work, the change only requires Pritzker’s signature to become law.
Moylan told Journal & Topics he and Murphy plan to present an oversized $5 million check to city officials at an upcoming Des Plaines City Council meeting.
“It’s like a $5 million bonanza for the city.”
Despite competition, Rivers still top revenue earner in Illinois
Rivers Casino Des Plaines has remained the far-and-away top revenue earner among Illinois casinos in 2023, even with Bally’s Chicago and The Temporary By American Place opening.
The casino has produced more than $40 million in monthly revenue regularly throughout the year. To put that number in perspective: its $41.5 million in September revenue was more than triple its next closest competitor. Only two other casinos (Grand Victoria: $12.4 million; Harrah’s Joliet: $11 million) broke eight figures.
Even if new Chicago casinos cut into Rivers’ bottom line, they have a long way to go to fill in the existing revenue gap. Rivers has established itself as the top Chicagoland casino and will stay there for the foreseeable future.
Beyond that, the city of Des Plaines and its residents stand to benefit even more from the increased competition. The city has yet to announce its plans for its newfound windfall.