If and when the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) approves the Danville casino, Golden Nugget is coming to Illinois.
Danville Development struck an agreement with Golden Nugget Online Gaming on Thursday. Golden Nugget will be able to offer sports wagering and online casino (if legalized) in Illinois.
The gaming company will also join in building the retail casino. The venue would also offer feature a Landry’s restaurant steakhouse.
The move comes a bit out of left field, as Danville is not a pending casino applicant as of this writing. In other words, it will likely be a while before Illinoisans can visit a Golden Nugget or bet on its site.
Regardless, it’s significant news. And it may tell us something about what’s to come in Illinois beyond sports betting.
Are Illinois online casinos on the horizon?
While Golden Nugget offers sports betting — and it likely will in Illinois — it’s much better known for its online casino product.
Golden Nugget recently announced plans to enter the Michigan market with a focus on its online casino product. Tilman Fertitta, the owner, said:
“We’re just primed to be the best iGaming company in America. We’ll be very strong in sports, but we’re in the iGaming business. That’s where the money is, that’s where the customer is more valuable, and that’s where the big money is going to be made going forward.”
Golden Nugget is currently the market leader in New Jersey. Online casinos aren’t legal in Illinois — yet. But it’s fair to wonder whether Golden Nugget would prioritize the Land of Lincoln if the online casino option wasn’t in the cards.
As of now, there are no definitive plans to offer online casino games in Illinois. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
Illinois is facing a budget shortfall, especially after the “Fair Tax” amendment didn’t pass. Gov. JB Pritzker has shown a willingness to expand gaming in his state.
In general, gaming operators are for it, but local restaurant and bar owners are against it.
A long, long timeline
A casino in Danville will likely be built at some point, but it won’t be open any time soon. So, Golden Nugget is clearly taking the long view here.
Danville Development has yet to submit its application to the IGB. Once it does, it could be a year (or longer) before it gets a decision; multiple casinos who applied in October 2019 and still haven’t gotten an answer. The IGB has asked them to amend their applications.
The approval process can take a long time, and that’s before building the casino itself. But if a Danville casino is ready around the same time online casino legislation passes, it’s a home run for Golden Nugget.
Illinois casino applicants in limbo
As previously mentioned, several Illinois casino applicants submitted paperwork in October 2019.
A few weeks ago, the IGB didn’t hand out any casino licenses during a meeting that was supposed to serve as the decision’s deadline. Instead, eight applicants amended their applications.
IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter said the applicants had received a written explanation for the delay.
Danville wasn’t one of them because it hasn’t submitted its materials to the IGB yet. Now that Golden Nugget is on board, perhaps we’ll see that happen soon.
“The Golden Nugget is a nationally recognized brand and strengthens the submission, provides additional opportunities and upgrades the overall project,” said James Wilmot, the vice president of Wilmot.
Wilmot is a part of Danville Development.
Illinois figures to be a gaming hotbed in the US in the coming years. It makes sense that a brand such as Golden Nugget would want to get in on the action.