CHICAGO

Cook County Gambling Tax: Toni Preckwinkle Considering $800 Tax On Video Poker, Slot Machines

10/15/2012 11:40 am ET

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle may this week announce a new $800 tax on each slot machine and video poker machine in the county as part of her new budget proposal.

Preckwinkle confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that she is considering a new tax on the machines, but did not comment on specifics.

Some have questioned whether such a tax would past legal muster, even as a Preckwinkle spokesman told the Chicago Tribune that attorneys with the county state's attorney's office indicated that the sticker tax could rightfully be implemented using home-rule authority.

State Rep. Lou Lang, a Skokie gambling proponent, told the Tribune that news of the proposal was "unusual and interesting" considering that the county board banned video gaming in the county's unincorporated areas, the Tribune reports. The county moved to prohibit the gaming machines in 2009, prior to Preckwinkle's election. The machines are also banned in Chicago.

Video poker finally arrived in Illinois last week three years after the machines were initially legalized by the state legislature. Meanwhile, the county's only casino -- Rivers Casino in Des Plaines -- is home to 1,400 gambling machines.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has long pushed for a casino within city limits but, according to a Tribune/WGN poll released Monday, support for such expansion in Illinois has dropped off in recent months. The state legislature has twice approved gambling expansion bills and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has squelched those efforts.

The tax could generate about $1 million in revenue toward Preckwinkle's attempt to close the county's $115 million budget hole.

Another new tax that Preckwinkle may include Thursday in her budget proposal is a "violence tax" on all guns and ammunition bought in the county. In response, gun rights group the Illinois State Rifle Association said the proposal was "another in a long string of schemes to punish law-abiding firearm owners and firearm dealers."

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