Danville City Council OKs Casino Plans, Illinois Gaming Board Now On Deck

Posted on August 25, 2020

One of six potential new casino gaming facilities in the Prairie State is one step closer to reality. A set of Danville casino plans recently cleared a preliminary but significant hurdle.

Danville City Council has approved the potential casino owner’s designs. The next, and more important, stage is getting the thumbs up from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

What’s in the Danville casino plans?

Danville Development now has a tentative agreement with the city. The Wilmot family of Rochester, NY, holds the principal interest.

However, this isn’t the Wilmot’s first foray into the casino industry. About a year ago, the family sold its interest in del Lago Casino in NY. The family also owns the firm Wilmorite Construction.

As one would expect, Wilmorite will handle the construction of the proposed casino at the former Morris Flamingo warehouse on Eastgate Drive. Altogether, the Wilmot family plans to spend around $100 million to get the facility open.

In exchange for its investment, the Wilmot family will receive sole ownership of the casino and the 11.54 acres the warehouse currently occupies. The family plans to manage the property itself.

The expenses include covering a $600,000 bill to address sewer capacity issues at the site. Wilmorite told the council that, with regulatory approval, it plans to begin construction in the spring and finish the first phase by the end of next year.

The first phase will focus on the gaming section of the facility. The plans include:

  • 17,000 square feet of gaming space
  • 570 parking spaces
  • Steakhouse restaurant and food court

The casino plans include 10 gaming tables and 500 slot machines. The plans call for expansion after the developer finishes the first phase of the construction as well.

Phase two would expand the gaming floor by another 15,000 feet. The third phase would transform the facility into a full-service destination, complete with convention space, hotel and more restaurants.

Peculiarly, the plans were mum on a retail sportsbook; however, that could be part of the expansion’s second phase. It could prove crucial if the new casino is to compete in the market.

Competition with a head start across the state line

In May, the Indiana Gaming Commission and the City of Terra Haute, IN, gave approval to a new casino. The drive from Danville to Terra Haute is just over an hour.

The latest projections have the facility opening in September 2021. If that happens, it could coincide with the new Danville casino’s opening.

The Wilmot family noted it is aware of the need not to lose market share across the state line. Additionally, it stressed it would be able to undergo construction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic safely.

All these plans are currently tentative, however. The Wilmots will now need to convince a perhaps more skeptical body, the IGB. That state agency has already denied one set of Danville casino plans.

The IGB dashed Haven Gaming’s earlier this year, stating its submission neither included sufficient information nor complied with state statutes. Haven withdrew its application last month.

The Wilmot family appears to be banking on its previous casino experience to succeed where Haven did not. If that doesn’t happen and the construction of a future Danville casino sees further delays, that may set the eventual casino already behind the new casino in Terra Haute.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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