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Three takeaways from city’s casino survey results

Residents are mostly optimistic

Neon slot machines backlight the profile of an older man playing games at a casino in Illinois.
A casino in Illinois.
Shutterstock

Mayor Lori Lightfoot isn’t sure about the profitability of a Chicago casino, she said, shortly after the financial feasibility results were released for the five sites the city was considering. At the same time, results from a public survey, showed some residents were generally optimistic about the benefits a casino could bring.

The Illinois Gaming Board confirmed Lightfoot’s concern about the “onerous” tax structure. The mayor hopes to adjust the taxes and fees dictated in the legislation, and it appears Governor J.B. Pritzker is open to having that conversation.

More than 10,000 people filled out the city’s survey after just one week, which was created to gauge where residents thought the casino should go along with other questions about the development.

More than a third supported a downtown location

Out of those who took the survey, 36 percent were in favor of a downtown location and most people wanted restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues as part of the development. As for concerns: 55 percent were worried about traffic and congestion and 47 percent of people didn’t want the project to disrupt local culture.

A higher number of survey takers were from lakefront neighborhoods

Most survey takers were from the Far South Side, near downtown, and North Side lakefront neighborhoods. Most were between the ages of 30 and 39 years old and accounted for a little less than a third of people who answered the survey.

A map of Chicago shows which ZIP codes had more survey takers. Lakefront neighborhoods are darker orange indicating more respondents than more western parts of the city. City of Chicago

The casino must be a boost for the local economy

On a 100-point scale evaluating respondents support for the project, the average answer was a 59. About half of people indicated that they’d visit the casino at least a few times a year. The city interpreted those results positively, saying that Chicagoans were open to a casino.

More strongly, about 73 percent of survey takers were looking forward to increased tax revenue and more than half were interested in the project’s potential for job creation. It was clearly important to residents, and the city too, that the project lift up the economy.

The initial results of the survey, which is still open, can be found on the city’s website.