TIF District Deal Paves Way For Hollywood Casino Relocation In Aurora

Written By T.J. McBride on November 10, 2023
Rendering of new Hollywood Casino Aurora on a story about the city council approving a land rezoning for the proposed location.

A new TIF district agreement will allow the Hollywood Casino Aurora relocation project to move forward.

That was the largest obstacle to get over in order for Penn Entertainment to move its casino from downtown Aurora to land near Chicago Premium Outlets. Penn plans to build a $360 million destination resort.

Penn is also in the process of relocating its Hollywood casino in Joliet.

City and Batavia School District agree to new TIF district

Revenue generated at both Hollywood casinos tend to place them in the middle of the pack of Illinois casinos each month. In October, Hollywood Casino Aurora reported $7.6 million of revenue from casino gaming, which was fifth in the state. Hollywood Casino Joliet came in seventh with $6.8 million. Penn hopes relocating the casinos will help each of them climb the ladder.

In the last week of October, the new TIF district was approved by the Aurora City Council and Batavia Public School District 101. However, it is not actually a new district but rather an amended version of the original District 101. The adjustment was needed because the proposed casino location was within the school district boundaries in northeast Aurora.

City leaders and Penn have worked together on the relocation project because both believe the move is key to long-term sustainability of the casino. Once built, property taxes are expected to be around $5.5 million annually.

Casino destination plans call for 200-room hotel, large event space, poker room

The $360 million destination casino plan was approved by the Aurora City Council in October 2022. It will feature a 200-room hotel, events space that spans 10,000 square feet, as well as a gaming floor that will hold approximately 900 slot machines and 50 table games.

There are also plans for standalone rooms for poker and baccarat as well.

Penn CEO Jay Snowden said the new location is key to the success of the casino.

“Our plan for Aurora is to construct a modern, best-in-class casino and hotel in an ideal location off I-88 that will allow us to serve the millions of visitors to the adjacent Simon Premium Outlet Mall.”

Penn is also relocating Hollywood Casino Joliet

Hollywood Casino Joliet is also moving inland from its original riverboat location on the Des Plaines River.

The new casino will sit on land in the Rock Run Crossing development at the intersection of interstates 80 and 55. It is expected to feature 800 slot machines and 45 table games. Other additions include a baccarat room and a sportsbook. The project also includes several bars and restaurants and an events center with meeting space.

Both relocations should make significant impacts on the two cities. Aurora and Joliet are the second and third most-populated cities in Illinois, respectively.

Marcus Fruchter, administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board, said regulators will help Penn get both projects across the finish line.

“Approval of the relocation proposals for the Hollywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet casinos are a significant step in the regulatory process to bring new gaming venues to these host communities. The IGB will work with Penn Entertainment as it moves through the regulatory process to ensure these relocated casino venues are constructed, opened and operated in an efficient, ethical and compliant manner.”

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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