CHICAGO
01/08/2013 05:35 pm ET

Thompson Center Casino: Labor Boss Pushes State Building As Potential Gambling Site

A powerful Chicago labor boss is eyeing a downtown State Building as a possible site for a land-based casino inside the city limits.

Calling it "the state government’s problem-plagued downtown headquarters," the Sun-Times reports Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez suggested Monday the city drop a casino in the lower level of the James R. Thompson Center.

The state's Central Management Services site for the Thompson Center boasts the facility's "1.2 million square feet of spectacular space under glass," but it's the touted convenient location "near hotels, convention facilities, mass transit, expressways, and public parking" that have casino supporters like Ramirez interested.

Should the Thompson Center welcome slot machines and roulette tables as its new tenants, Ramirez admitted the current state employees who work there would get the boot. According to NBC Chicago, Ramirez doesn't necessarily consider the worker relocation a negative, given the building's operational problems with heating and air-conditioning.

"As old as it is, it’s going to have to have a major renovation," Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper said in 2011. "Maybe you’re better off allowing somebody else to renovate it." Before Ramirez, Roper suggested the Thompson Center would be the perfect spot for a proposed casino.

Casino proponents like Mayor Rahm Emanuel have an eye on the potential payday a city casino could bring — the very same thing that has nearby Indiana leaders worried about competition from neighboring states.

In recent months, Gov. Pat Quinn's anti-gambling expansion stance appears to be softening. Quinn vetoed a plan last August that would add four new casinos around Illinois saying the plan lacked regulatory oversight and ethical standards.

In November, however, Quinn suggested he and Chicago's pro-casino mayor were close to an agreement that would bring a new gambling outpost to the city.

Photo by chicagoarchitecture via Flickr.

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