Welcome to 3rdWard.org, a website dedicated to communication and transparency between Des Plaines City Government and you. This website, maintained by 3rd Ward Alderman Denise Rodd, is designed to keep neighbors engaged in their community and informed about issues.

Entries in Casino (7)


Update: Gaming Tax Revenue & Expenditure Policy, Out of Committee

No one said this job was going to be easy.  

Tonight proved to be quite the challenge.  The major disagreement stemmed from my claim that we need to codify the Council's direction on casino revenue.  The acting city manager said it best: we have a chance to clearly articulate our policy on casino revenue while demonstrating consistency and clarity to our residential and commercial constituents.

Alderman Wilson, Robinson, and I argued in favor of a long term plan for gaming tax revenue, directing it towards debt and infrastructure.  With two of three committee votes, Alderman Wilson and I passed this measure on to the full City Council for consideration.  

I'm proud to move this measure forward, but the work isn't complete.  We'll see it back on the full Council agenda Monday, June 4th.  Thanks to the residents who attended and spoke up.  More to come. 


Memo: Ald. Bogusz Proposes Gaming Tax Revenue & Expenditure Policy


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Background: In July of 2011, Rivers Casino began operations in the City of Des Plaines.  A portion of gross revenues generated by the casino are collected in the form of Wagering Tax (5% of Gross Receipts) and Admissions Tax ($1 per person); these revenues are then remitted to the City’s newly formed Gaming Tax Fund. 

In an effort to win the tenth and final gaming license, the City of Des Plaines entered into a Business Development Agreement (BDA) with the Illinois Gaming Board.  This agreement stipulated that Des Plaines pay $10,000,000 to the State of Illinois and 40% of remaining gaming tax revenues to designated revenue sharing communities.  Alderman Bogusz said, “This agreement guaranteed 30 years of revenue to the State and sharing communities, placing all risk on Des Plaines.  Mayor Moylan knows this and is working hard to represent our interests in Springfield.”  

Illustration: The City of Des Plaines’ portion of gaming revenue is most vulnerable to declining gross receipts. By way of comparison, the State’s highest grossing casino – Elgin’s Grand Victoria Casino – peaked at $436MM in 2007 when there were only nine active casinos.

Issue:  There is no financial policy in place to handle these new revenues.  Without one, revenue can be used to supplement the city’s operating budget and fund pet projects.  “Casino revenue should not be allowed to pay for essential city services as it’s not a dependable revenue source.  Funding city salaries or pet projects with this revenue would be reckless and the opposite of what neighbors want from the casino.” said Alderman Bogusz.  Year-over-year, historical data from comparable communities suggests a 40-70% swing is common in revenue to the municipality.

“To help demonstrate, take a look at ten years of history from some of our State’s comparable casinos.  If you apply the BDA that we’ve been made to operate under ($10MM to Illinois and 40% to sharing communities) you can see dramatic volatility in year-over-year municipal revenue despite the economic conditions.”

Proposal:  On Thursday, March 29th, the Finance & Administration Committee will review a proposed Gaming Tax Revenue and Expenditure Policy that will:

  • Demonstrate fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of Des Plaines
  • Promote significant investments in infrastructure and begin to eliminate burdensome debt
  • Prevent fuzzy accounting and eliminate the possibility for misuse
  • Provide Council policy direction to City Staff as they begin the 2013 budget process
  • Insulate Casino Revenue from pet projects and short-term spending
  • Allow the Gaming Tax Fund to function apart from support of the General Fund
  • Defend the City’s gaming revenue from downstate political forces
  • Protect the integrity of the General Fund Reserve
  • Enhance the City’s standing during regular credit rating adjustments

“Following the 2012 budget process, I brought this concept to staff.  Since then, I’ve worked with our dedicated City Manager (acting), Finance Director, Finance & Administration committee member, and 3rd Ward Residents to develop this Gaming Tax Revenue and Expenditure Policy.”

“The burden of this Casino was placed on the taxpayers of Des Plaines.  We must demonstrate that we’re investing these new dollars wisely.  Infrastructure like flooding mitigation, sidewalks, streets, and sewers enhance the value of our city and return that value back to the taxpayers.  The elimination of debt accumulated in years past helps to mitigate risk while keeping taxes low.”

“Let’s get off on the right foot before the first casino dollar is spent.  Des Plaines should never be forced to make a personnel or essential city service decision based on how hot the craps tables have been.  If we let these dollars go straight to the General Fund without a plan, we’d be throwing the dice.” 

“Mayor Moylan is working hard to protect our City’s interests in Springfield and I’m fighting to protect those revenues back home.”  



Casino Pursues LEED┬« Certification

From the beginning of the project’s planning phase, Midwest Gaming CEO Greg Carlin sought to include green elements in the project, with the stretch goal of LEED® Gold Certification. Carlin knew this was a very ambitious goal given the typical layout of a casino with no windows, low levels of lighting and no outdoor space. Carlin also knew that if successful in achieving LEED® Certification for the project, the casino would be the first LEED® Certified casino in Illinois, an important differentiating feature for the marketing of the casino complex and a benefit to both employees and customers.

The casino and entertainment complex will be located in Des Plaines, Ill., on 20 acres at the northwest corner of Des Plaines River Road and Devon Avenue. The site is minutes from O’Hare International Airport, very close to Chicago and easily accessible from throughout metropolitan Chicago.

The first phase of construction is scheduled for completion in fall 2011. A 147,000-square-foot casino will offer slot machines, gaming tables and dining and lounge venues, and will be served by a five-level 1,500 car parking structure.

Energy and water efficiency, recycling and the use of recycled and locally sourced materials are priorities for construction and operation. Planned green features include high-efficiency HVAC units with energy recovery, selective use of skylights and living green walls, a single-stream recycling program, efficient lighting fixtures/controls and a reflective white roof membrane. The landscape design uses native and drought-resistant plantings to eliminate the need for irrigation. The project also involves remediation of a brownfield site.

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system for the building will consist of packaged roof-mounted air handling units with gas fired heating sections and air cooled DX cooling sections. These units will include 100 percent air-side economizer sections for free cooling when outdoor ambient conditions allow. The main casino area will be served by constant volume, variable temperature units.  These units will vary supply air temperature by reading the average temperature of a minimum of four thermostats per zone. These units shall vary the amount of outdoor air for demand control ventilation utilizing carbon dioxide sensors in the breathing zone and shall be capable of delivering up to 100 percent outdoor air. The casino air handling units will include energy air recovery wheels to pre-treat the outdoor air with energy transferred from the exhaust air.

The restaurant, lounge, warehouse and back of house office areas will be served with variable volume variable temperature units. Electric reheat variable air volume terminal boxes will regulate supply air volume and temperature to each individual zone based on the zone thermostat. High occupancy zones such as restaurants and conference rooms will be equipped with carbon dioxide censors in the breathing zone for demand control ventilation. Perimeter zones with exterior glass shall also be provided with electric baseboard radiant heaters with individual thermostats.”

The Des Plaines Casino site prominently fronts the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) north of O’Hare airport and sits across from forest preserve land and the Des Plaines River. In addition to site remediation efforts, the project will improve storm water runoff characteristics and add a percentage of green space, to achieve 15%, on the site. A road reconstruction and intersection improvement project being undertaken by the Illinois Department of Transportation will enhance mass transit and pedestrian access to the site.

Among the creative offerings, will be free valet parking to all guests who arrive in low-emission, fuel-efficient vehicles—a unique approach to providing priority space for “green” drivers. Bike racks will also be available, and casino employees will have access to changing facilities. Beyond several hundred construction jobs, the project is expected to create approximately 1,000 permanent jobs and generate more than $150 million in annual gaming tax revenue for the State of Illinois.

Midwest Gaming selected Chicago-based DMA to serve as development manager and to provide LEED consulting services for the Des Plaines Casino. DMA was chosen for its vast experience with large scale construction projects and strength in LEED® consulting. The Las Vegas firms FEA Consulting Engineers and RHR Consulting Engineers are providing engineering expertise, and Chicago-based dbHMS is serving as the LEED commissioning agent. The projects sustainability goals emphasize delivering an environmentally sustainable project to the City of Des Plaines and surrounding communities, achieving short- and long-term operational savings through energy efficiency, and creating a more environmentally friendly, unique and enjoyable experience for customers.

To accommodate smoking guests without compromising indoor air quality, the nonsmoking casino will offer contained outdoor terraces with seating, open-air screening, heating elements and independent exhaust systems for year-round comfort. Outdoor signage for the casino will make use of large-scale LED monitors and electronic murals. The project is an early adopter of energy efficient LED lighting for the parking structure which will reduce energy consumption, in this 24 hour 7 day a week facility.

CEO Greg Carlin says that he hopes that the Des Plaines Casino and Entertainment Complex will set a new standards for incorporating sustainable design elements into casinos.

Written by By Wendy Berger Shapiro, www.greenbeanchicago.com


City Council Meeting: 05/03/10

With an adjournment time of 7:51pm, tonight's Council Meeting was the fastest in recent history.  An intergovernmental agreement between the City and the State of Illinois was advanced to second reading and passed unanimously.  The State will be spending millions to upgrade Des Plaines River Road in anticipation of the casino at River and Devon (Daily Herald Article).  In return, the City will take control of the thoroughfare.  Former Mayor Michael Albrecht was appointed and Debra Lester was reappointed to the Fire and Police Commission.  


Casino Financing Finalized

In a press release issued yesterday, Midwest Gaming announced that $295 million had been raised to support construction efforts for the $445 million Des Plaines casino.  A groundbreaking cerimony has been scheduled for Friday, April 16th at 11am on the casino site. 


City Council Meeting: 03/01/10

Tomorrow's Council Meeting will cover the finalization of the Casino's zoning ordinance and the fate of the Sim's Bowl property.  A synopsis and audio link will follow.  View the complete council agenda.


Casino Update: Development Schedule

Memo from the Department of Community and Economic Development

The preliminary Planned Unit Development (PUD) materials for the Des Plaines Casino development were received by the Department of Community and Economic Development on January 4th and are currently undergoing staff review. Based upon this submittal, we have laid out the following timeline for the Casino’s regulatory approvals:

(subject to change)
January 25th
- Plan Commission review of Preliminary PUD submittal
January 26th - Community Development Committee review of Preliminary PUD
February 16th - City Council first reading of Preliminary PUD and zoning change
March 1st - Second Reading PUD & estimated date of commencement of demolition
March 15th - Tentative start of construction (site work)
July 30, 2011 - Completion

There are intermediary steps which must be adhered to, of course, and the final engineering and Final PUD submittals would have to follow the Preliminary almost immediately, but it looks as though those elements are already nearly complete and the schedule, while aggressive, is achievable.