Thursday, June 6, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
For all intents and purposes, one municipality in Proviso Township just hit the jackpot. The Illinois House and Senate passed a bill on June 2 that would authorize the construction of six new casinos in the state. And the portion of the revenue from a proposed casino to be built in Chicago would go to the village of Maywood.
According to the language of Senate Bill 0690, $1 for each person “embarking on a riverboat or entering a casino” in the city will go Cook County, $1 will go to the state, $0.70 will go to the city of Chicago, $0.15 will go the village of Maywood and $0.15 will go the village of Summit.
Maywood’s cut would likely translate into millions of dollars a year in automatic revenue, said Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford (4th) — a Maywood resident and the lawmaker most responsible for setting the village up for the potential financial windfall.
Lightford said that Maywood and Summit were selected based on the extent of their needs. The lawmaker cited a variety of criteria, such as poverty levels and even food desert status, to make the case for why those communities deserved a share of gambling revenue.
The arrangement isn’t new. When Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opened in 2011, the host city agreed to share some of the revenue it receives from the casino with 10 in-need South Suburban communities: Dixmoor, Ford Heights, Hodgkins, Phoenix, Robbins, Harvey, Markham, Riverdale, Summit and Chicago Heights.
From 2011 to 2017, those communities received nearly $32 million in casino income from Des Plaines, the Journal and Topics reported. Lightford referenced data that shows the running total could be nearly $48 million.
“I was really bothered by [the Rivers City revenue-sharing arrangement], because Des Plaines feeds into the West Suburbs — not the South Suburbs,” Lightford said, adding that she was determined to make sure that the West Suburbs aren’t overlooked this time around.
“I asked how we could spend money from the Chicago riverboat to support [economically distressed] areas that were within 15 miles of it,” she said.
According to a Chicago Tribune report, some possible locations for a Chicago casino “range from the former Michael Reese Hospital site near McCormick Place to the former locations of the Stateway Gardens and Robert Taylor Homes public housing developments along the Dan Ryan Expressway.”
Wherever its located, however, the revenue-split with Maywood and Summit would still stand, Lightford said.
The senator said that she had also recommended that Bellwood and Broadview be considered for a portion of the gambling revenue, but that those suburbs did not meet the criteria of communities most in need of the funds.
Lightford said that state officials are still working on precise revenue projections, but that Maywood could likely realize at least a few million dollars a year.
She said that the village will receive the revenue indefinitely, unless changes are made to the law. The bill still awaits the signature of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has been vocal about his support of the measure.
“That money will lead to major improvements to the village’s infrastructure and more,” said state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th). “I’m proud to work with Majority Leader Lightford to bring it home.”
Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins could not be reached on Thursday night for comment. VFP
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