Land-based Casino Proposed for Chicago

CHICAGO -- Chicago labor and business organizations have joined forces to promote a plan to build a land-based, city-owned casino that they say is necessary to boost Chicago's convention and tourism business.

The casino would have more than 3,000 gaming positions and create 11,000 new jobs, said the coalition, which includes the Chicago Federation of Labor, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau.

"This is a long-term economic strategy to bring good-paying jobs and businesses to Chicago," federation of labor President Dennis Gannon said. "It's going to make us competitive with world class cities because right now, we're not."

Though the proposal does not name a specific location for the casino, the coalition said it would be located in downtown Chicago. Under the plan, the casino would be jointly owned by the city and state, and the coalition estimates the casino would bring in about $300 million annually for the city and up to $700 million for the state.

The casino plan will be floated in the state Legislature's November veto session, the coalition said.

A proposal that included four new casinos -- including one in Chicago -- stalled in the Senate in the last legislative session. Gov. Rod Blagojevich has said he would veto any bill allowing a Chicago casino, and has said gambling was legalized to help economically troubled communities -- not the state's largest city.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said Friday that the governor's office could not comment on the coalition's proposal because it had not reviewed it.