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Article posted: 6/29/2013 5:11 PM

Rivers Casino owners sue Cook County over tax

By Eric Peterson

The parent company of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines has filed a lawsuit against Cook County, seeking an injunction on a new gambling device tax which company officials estimate would cost the business about $1 million per year.

"The suit seeks a permanent injunction because Cook County's new tax violates the Illinois constitution and Illinois law," said Dennis Culloton, spokesman for Midwest Gaming & Entertainment LLC.

"For example, the county's tax interferes with exclusive jurisdiction of the Illinois Gaming Board and proposes to create a new body of regulators," Culloton added. "The tax also creates an arbitrary two-tier tax system between gambling devices in casinos and video gaming terminals in bars and restaurants without furthering the supposed goals of the tax."

County officials said the tax is intended to fund public safety and criminal justice services that address the negative impacts of compulsive gambling and gambling addiction.

"We received the lawsuit Friday and will evaluate it," Kristen Mack, spokeswoman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, said in a statement. "We intend to defend it. The annual tax amounts to a little more than one day's revenue and will be used to invest in public safety."

Cook County approved the tax last November and it took effect on June 1. Payments are due Aug. 1.

The tax would collect $1,000 per year from every "gambling device" such as casino slot machines and $200 per year on every "video gaming terminal."

Culloton said the lawsuit seeks an injunction on the tax as soon as possible, but would not speculate on how quickly the Cook County circuit court might consider the complaint.

The specific defendants named in the suit are Cook County, the Cook County Department of Revenue and department Director Zahra Ali.

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