Golden Nugget Danville Casino Receives Final License

Written By T.J. McBride on October 30, 2023
Photo of the sports bar inside the Golden Nugget Danville on a story about the casino receiving its permanent license.

The long wait is over.

After four years, the permanent casino plans for Golden Nugget Danville have been approved. On Oct. 26, the Illinois Gaming Board officially approved the final owners license for Golden Nugget Danville Casino by a 3-0 vote, with one member absent. The casino is now cleared to fully build its permanent facility.

This comes on the heels of the city of Danville prevailing in a lawsuit that sought to keep the casino from being built at its current site.

These developments now allow the Golden Nugget Danville Casino to press forward with construction of its permanent facility at 204 Eastgate Drive with a four-year gaming license in hand. The permanent facility is expected to open in 2026.

Golden Nugget the 5th Illinois casino to get a license since 2021

This is another big step forward for a constantly ascending Illinois casino market that shows signs of growing into one of the largest in the country. In September alone, more than 1 million casino admissions were tracked, which led to an adjusted gross receipt total of $132.1 million. That resulted in $32.7 million of tax revenue for the state.

Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) Administrator Marcus D. Fruchter says the Golden Nugget shows the continued growth of the Illinois casino market.

“With today’s licensing actions, the IGB has opened and licensed five new casinos since November of 2021 in Rockford, Waukegan, Danville, Carterville, and Chicago in addition to its other regulatory and law enforcement work. During this period of unprecedented growth and expansion, the staff and board members of the IGB remained steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the ethics, compliance, integrity, safety, and transparency of Illinois gaming and we will continue to do so.”

Golden Nugget Danville was deemed to be preliminarily suitable for a casino license in March 2022 when its application was unanimously approved. Just a month later, construction began on a permanent casino while preparations began on a temporary facility.

Five months ago, wagers began being taken at the Golden Nugget’s temporary tents set up near where the permanent casino is being built. It celebrated its official grand opening in August.

The permanent Golden Nugget plans to have a sportsbook, but it has not applied for a sports betting license yet. That should come when the casino is closer to completion.

Temporary Golden Nugget Danville has shown low numbers

In its first nearly six months of operation, the temporary Golden Nugget has not made a large impression on the Illinois casino market.

In September, Golden Nugget ranked 13 out of 15 casinos in adjusted revenue with $3.3 million. Around 135,000 people have walked into the temporary casino tents since opening in May. The casino’s adjusted revenue in five months is $12 million. For context, Grand Victoria Casino had more revenue in September than Golden Nugget has generated since opening.

A big reason for this is the small facility the Golden Nugget is operating out of. The 19,489-square-foot gaming floor is the smallest in the state. It houses just 14 table games and 500 slot machines.

Golden Nugget Danville names new general manager

As the next chapter of Golden Nugget Danville begins, it has made a change in management. On the same day as being awarded its final casino license, the casino named Jahnae Erpenbach as the general manager. She is replacing Juris Basens, who had overseen operations since the temporary facility opened in May.

Erpenbach is from southern Illinois. Her extensive history in gaming goes back far. She helped open one of the first riverboat casinos in Illinois, Players Casino, in 1993. Erpenbach is excited about her new job.

“I can tell you, humbly, I am ready and poised, and absolutely excited about the opportunity to join the Danville team. I’m looking for a lot of good success for the future to get it to the maximum potential that I know it can do.”

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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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