Friday, December 14, 2018

Where should Chicago casino be?

Soon-to-be-former Mayor Rahm Emanuel let it be known just where he’d like to see Chicago develop a casino as part of a plan to let the city raise tax monies to pay off pension-related debts.
Envision a casino in the shadow of the port district near Lake Calumet
Not that it’s a shoo-in that a casino will be built any time soon. The city, after all, has been talking for decades about plans to have casino gambling within the municipal limits – without a thing becoming of such talks.

BUT EMANUEL IS talking about a casino down near Lake Calumet on a site by the Illinois International Port, which is the border between the 9th and 10th wards – which also are the far southeastern corner of Chicago AND adjacent to the Illinois/Indiana border.

What it is not is a location up at the exact opposite far northwestern corner of Chicago which would be adjacent to O’Hare International Airport, or somewhere near downtown Chicago (perhaps near Navy Pier).

Either of those sites would clearly be meant to entice tourists coming to Chicago to blow a significant amount of their money at our gambling casinos and (in the process) help Chicago pay off some serious bills it has developed.

I can already hear people inclined to want to trash Emanuel in his final months as mayor for picking the “wrong” site for a casino. They’re probably going to dredge up the same tired old rhetoric that they’ve used for ages against the part of Chicago that I actually was born in – and where I have cousins who are life-long residents of.

BUT LISTENING TO Emanuel’s rhetoric, it would appear he realizes one fact that is all-too-true. There are Chicagoans who like to gamble who enjoy the fact they have casinos not that far from where they live.

As Emanuel pointed out, the casinos of Northwest Indiana (particularly the Horseshoe Casino of Hammond that is less than one mile from the Chicago city limits) take in about $40 million per month in gross revenues from people who cross over the state line from Illinois – mostly from Chicago.

Which means Emanuel’s motivation is that he wants to keep people IN Illinois and within the city limits when they choose to throw their money away into slot machines or playing other games of chance.

I’m sure this will offend the Indiana Legislature-types who seem determined to want to bolster their economies off the proximity of part of their state to Chicago. But I can’t say that fact would bother me in the least, since those parts of Indiana with proximity to Chicago usually are amongst the most civilized and livable parts of the Hoosier state.

YES, I KNOW full-well how many people make the cross-over to Indiana for the cheap thrills they can derive from gambling, whereas a full-fledged trip to Las Vegas can be ever-so-costly.

I myself have been to those casinos on occasion, and it never fails to amaze me the amount of Illinois license plates on cars bringing people in to those casinos. I don’t doubt in the least that many of those people would stay closer to home, if only such a gambling facility existed.

As for those people who can’t envision something of the pseudo-luxury level of a casino being built in that part of the city, I suspect they’ve never seen the Harbourside International Golf Center.

It’s a one-time landfill that was converted to a golf course in the mid-1990s, and Emanuel points out there is open land upon which a casino and hotel could be built. It would force people to give up their image of the Southeast Side as a land of slag piles and sludge – which is something that would be beneficial to the city as a while.

SO I WILL be intrigued to see just how successful Emanuel is in his final effort to try to gain something on behalf of Chicago. Although I’m also realistic enough to know what a long-shot the concept is.

There are those who will see this being put at the city’s far Southeast corner and will figure it won’t benefit their home areas in the least.

Particularly those places where horseracing is predominant when it comes to local gambling opportunities. Because all-too-often, casino bills get dragged down because the racetracks want to be offered something to compensate them for the fact that many people will prefer the idea of throwing their money into a slot machine – rather than sticking it under a window to place a bet on the ponies.

For despite all the rhetoric we’ll hear about the glories of horseracing being the “Sport of Kings,” the fact is that most people who go to either racetracks or casinos really have only one goal in mind – a dream of a jackpot big enough that they don’t ever have to work again for a living!


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