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Could the Thompson Center Host Chicago's Casino?

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Sep 14, 2011 9:40PM

Photo by Flickr user shrosa814.

Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper says the James R. Thompson at Clark and Randolph could be the perfect spot for a casino in Chicago. There has been discussion before of selling off the building to find extra money for the state. The Thompson Center currently hosts state government offices and a somewhat sad food court on the lower floor near the entrance to the Clark/Lake El station.

Roper told the Sun-Times, “It’s a burden to the state and it could make a great casino on the first floor and the lower level and hotel rooms surrounding it” on the upper floors. That raises some questions about how the El station would work into that. Would commuters be walking past slot machines on their way to work?

Of course no casino will come to town unless Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Gov. Pat Quinn can come to some agreement. Mayor Emanuel and Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) are pressuring Gov. Pat Quinn to make a move on the legislation. Emanuel and Quinn have used the press to take jabs at one another. While Emanuel contends that casinos are a necessary source of revenue to shore up Chicago's sagging infrastructure and create jobs, Quinn says the casino bill as it stands would open the industry up to corruption.

Now Quinn is adding a loss in education revenue to his arguments against the casino bill. He says an expansion of gambling in Illinois would lead to less revenue for education, and it would -- for about two to three years. After that, casino revenue would bring in $250 million for schools each year.