As Illinois Readies For New Casinos, Pritzker Signs Gambling Labor Bill

Posted By Joe Boozell on June 15, 2021

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed the Gambling-Project Labor Agreement into law last week, which will impact new casino projects and construction employees.

Bill SB 1360 requires casino applicants to use project labor agreements when renewing or seeking a license.

One of the main goals of the legislation is to keep casino construction jobs in Illinois. The bill prohibits lower-wage, out-of-state workers from taking those jobs. Pritzker said:

“Expanding access to economic opportunity through high-quality jobs has been priority since Day 1 for this administration. SB 1360 meets that commitment while establishing a process that gives all hardworking men and women certainty and safe treatment.”

Casino applicants now must provide documentation proving that a project labor agreement is in place. They must show the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) evidence within 30 days after the project start date.

State Sen. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, said:

“With this initiative, Illinois is working to create jobs and ensuring good paying jobs stay in downstate. By upholding promises to our local labor unions, we can express our appreciation for their local contributions.”

The bill includes the following stipulations:

  • Requires hours to be carried out by underrepresented minorities and women.
  • Guarantees against lockouts and strikes.
  • Guarantees a reliable source of skilled, experienced labor.
  • Permits the selection of the lowest qualified responsible bidder.

What new casinos are coming to Illinois?

The timing of the new law is not a coincidence, as we could see a flurry of new casinos built in Illinois over the next half-decade.

The 2019 gaming bill allowed for six new casinos in Illinois. They will be in the following regions:

  • Rockford
  • Williamson County
  • Waukegan
  • Danville
  • South suburbs
  • Chicago

The IGB has moved at a slow pace in assessing the applications. But over the past few months, there is some movement finally.

The board found Hard Rock Casino Rockfordpreliminarily suitable” for a license in February. That’s one step short of a final approval.

IGB announced last week that the Walker’s Bluff Casino in Williamson County is also preliminarily suitable.

Over the next few months, those two casinos should receive the final go-ahead, while we may hear more suitability findings during the same span.

SB 1360 will affect all these construction projects.

With that said, the bill also includes rules for casino license renewals. Here are the 10 casinos currently operating in the Land of Lincoln:

  • Argosy Casino Alton
  • DraftKings at Casino Queen
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
  • Harrah’s Casino Joliet
  • Harrah’s Casino Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
  • Par-A-Dice Casino
  • Rivers Casino

As of June 11, Illinois is fully open. That means the state’s casinos can operate at 100% capacity.

Not much happening on other Illinois gaming issues

SB 1360 was the most significant piece of gaming legislation to be signed into law stemming from the May session.

The House passed a bill that would legalize betting on in-state college teams. However, it would only apply to retail wagering locations, and the Senate has yet to vote on it.

Considering the bill passed 96-11 in the House, it should pass in the Senate once it’s brought up. Ideally, that will happen before college football season.

As for other gaming issues, such as online casino and the in-person sports betting registration requirement, there wasn’t much happening.

In the short term, at least. The Senate passed a resolution calling for a report into how much revenue online casinos in Illinois would have generated had it been legal in Illinois prior to COVID-19.

While online casino gaming didn’t pass this session, there seems to be legislative momentum for future sessions.

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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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