cunningham 063020 031517CHICAGO – Legislation sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham that will help bring a casino to the city of Chicago and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the city’s police and fire pension funds was signed into law by Governor JB Pritzker Tuesday.

“A Chicago casino has been years in the making, and I’m glad we were able to get this legislation over the finish line and make it a reality,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “This project will provide a major economic boost to the entire region and provide critical revenue to Chicago’s police and fire pension funds to help ensure our first responders get the retirement benefits they’ve earned.”

Senate Bill 516 makes various changes to the state’s gaming laws and will enable Chicago to open its long-sought casino. When fully operational, the casino is expected to funnel more than $200 million dollars a year to Chicago’s police and fire pension funds.

Shortly after taking his seat in the Illinois Senate in 2013, Cunningham introduced legislation that would have required the city of Chicago to dedicate future revenue to the city’s financially strapped police and fire pension funds.

As chief sponsor of Senate Bill 516, Cunningham was able to ensure the intent of his 2013 legislation remained in the law. The measure passed both the Senate and House with comfortable, bipartisan majorities. As a result, the taxes collected by the city on all slot machines and table games in the new casino will go exclusively to Chicago’s police and fire pensions.

“Although a Chicago casino seemed a long way away in 2013, it was critical to put a marker down then to help ensure it provided funding for Chicago’s police and fire pension systems,” Cunningham said. “This is going to provide a major investment in those pension funds, and, as an added bonus, it’s going to reduce the pressure placed on Chicago property taxes, which were the only source of revenue for police and fire pensions.”

Senate Bill 516 will take effect immediately.