Governor J.B. Pritzker Signs Gambling Labor Law
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law this week, and it will have a big impact on the future casino construction projects in Illinois.
Senate Bill 1360 was the official filing of the bill, but it is more commonly known as the Gambling-Project Labor Agreement.
The biggest purpose for passing this new law is to keep jobs in Illinois, and project labor agreements must accompany any license applications or renewals that are filed. Companies are not able to hire out-of-state workers at a lower wage just to decrease the costs of construction.
Illinois continues to suffer financial and economic effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unemployment rate in the state is still higher than normal. However, many of these new casinos will require 1,000 employees or more, and that will help get people back to work.
The Illinois Gaming Board oversees and regulates the gaming industry in the state, and it will work closely with any companies working to build new properties. A project labor agreement must be filed with the IGB within 30 days after the project has started.
This bill also has language in place to help minorities and women seek employment with these construction companies, and these groups must work a percentage of the hours. Workers are also protected in the event that a strike or lockout occurs, as that would put people back out of jobs.
Casino companies are not able to simply choose the lowest bidder for a project unless that bid comes with an approved labor agreement. The focus will be on hiring workers from Illinois as opposed to looking into the states of Iowa or Indiana.
Six New Casinos Coming
When a gaming expansion bill was passed and signed into law in 2019, six new casino projects were approved. There was hope that construction on some of these projects would already be underway, but that hasn’t been the case.
The cities of Chicago, Rockford, Danville, and Waukegan will all receive a new casino because of the gaming expansion bill, and bids have been submitted to the IGB for a few of the projects. However, the biggest project will be in the city of Chicago, and the application process is underway.
Williamson County and the South Suburbs will also be in line to receive a new casino, but a final location has not been selected.
There has been plenty of disappointment aimed at the IGB for how slow it has moved in getting these projects up and running, but this new bill should move things along. If several bidders all submit a proper labor agreement, then the IGB will simply choose the proposal that it prefers.
Not only does this affect new casino projects, but the 10 current casinos in Illinois will be affected when it comes time to renew a license. In addition, any casino expansion or upgrades that require construction will have to come with a labor agreement in place.
The state of Illinois recently moved to Phase 5 of the “Restore Illinois” plan, allowing for 100% capacity at the casinos.
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