Golden Nugget Vs. Hard Rock: Danville Hopes To Beat Terre Haute To Casino Launch

Posted on December 8, 2020

Danville has once again submitted its casino application to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) to host one of the new casinos in Illinois. Now, the waiting game begins.

City officials are hoping the wait isn’t too long. But based on how the IGB has treated other casino applications, there’s not much cause for optimism.

Danville has an extra incentive to get a casino up and running as soon as possible. There will be a competing casino in Terre Haute, IN, about an hour south of Danville.

The Terre Haute project isn’t moving as fast as expected either, as it got caught up in the Spectacle Entertainment investigation. But it still looks to be well ahead of Danville.

Terre Haute already has an approved license, and construction is set to begin soon.

When will Danville reach that point? It could be a bit.

Danville casino plans have been messy thus far

Haven Gaming originally submitted Danville’s casino application. The application didn’t include sufficient information nor complied with state statutes, according to the IGB.

Haven subsequently withdrew its bid in July. That caused local officials to start from scratch, with Alderman Mike Puhr saying that the city effectively had “wool pulled over its eyes.”

In August, Danville Development agreed to head up the casino plans, with the Wilmot family holding principal interest.

But the big news came in November. That’s when Golden Nugget struck an agreement with Danville Development to secure Illinois market access, and a Danville casino will have Golden Nugget branding once it opens.

The Terre Haute casino, by comparison, will have Hard Rock branding.

With Golden Nugget on board, the IGB now has a more concrete idea of what a Danville casino will entail. Still, the board hasn’t acted quickly on such applications in the past.

The IGB is supposed to have a year to decide whether to accept or reject a casino applicant. Late October was the one-year deadline from when eight applicants had submitted their proposals.

However, there is also language in the Illinois Gambling Act allowing the IGB to delay a decision with a written notice.

So, eight applicants had to amend their proposals, and they still don’t know what’s going to happen with the applications they first submitted in October 2019.

Every case is different, but there’s reason to believe Danville won’t have a decision for a year. If not longer.

In other words, Terre Haute likely has at least a year’s head start on Danville unless the IGB approves Danville’s application much quicker than expected.

Terre Haute casino to be much larger than Danville’s

Danville’s revised proposal isn’t as ambitious as the original.

It includes 500 slot machines, 10 gaming tables and a Landry’s Steakhouse. It would be located just west of Lynch Road.

The Terre Haute “Rocksino,” meanwhile, will have 1,200 gaming positions, four bars, four restaurants and a 300-seat entertainment venue. It will also connect to an adjacent hotel.

The original Danville plan included a hotel and entertainment venue, as well.

Illinois casinos currently shut down due to COVID-19

The Illinois Gambling Act allowed for six new casinos to be built in the following regions: Danville, Chicago, Rockford, Williamson County, Waukegan and the south suburbs.

That’s in addition to the 10 casinos already in Illinois.

However, all the casinos are closed due to the COVID-19 spike in the Land of Lincoln. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker made the decision to shut them down on Nov. 17.

It’s unknown when those casinos will reopen, with the state bracing for more cases and hospitalizations in the wake of Thanksgiving.

This is the second time casinos have had to close in Illinois this year.

At the moment, Danville and other prospective locations aren’t missing much. But once life goes back to normal, the wait will become all the more frustrating.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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