Chicago mayor looks to gambling (and marijuana) to fill pension black hole

US media is reporting that the outgoing mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is keen to open a casino to help tackle the city’s pension crisis.

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Citing a source close to the mayor, USA Today reported that Emanuel (pictured) wants to open a casino and legalise recreational marijuana to begin to address a $27bn hole in the city’s pension funds.

Emanuel, who will leave office in May, hopes that taxation on a new casino in America’s third largest city could deliver an overdue boost to Chicago’s pension funds.

In excerpts of a speech he is set to give later today, the mayor said: “These contributions must be made. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. While there is no single solution to this challenge, I believe there are sequential steps we can take to keep moving the ball down the field. And I believe those steps must be based on progressive principles.”

Chicago is expected to need to find an additional $276m in 2020 to pay for increasing police and fire pension contributions, and a further $310m by 2022 to cover the municipal and labourers fund.

Calling for a casino has been a recurring theme of Emanuel’s seven years to date as the mayor of Chicago, although he has been more cautious about joining the increasingly widespread legalisation of marijuana that the US has been seeing.

It seems that, with the city’s pensions scandal showing no signs of going away – and with his own exit on the horizon – the mayor is upping the ante.