Ready To Rock? IGB Says Not Yet, Will Vote On Hard Rock Casino Rockford In February

Posted By Joe Boozell on January 27, 2021

Hard Rock Casino Rockford gave a presentation to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) at Wednesday’s board meeting, and a “preliminary suitability” decision will be made on Feb. 4.

Though that wouldn’t be a final approval, it would be a key step toward securing one. Construction cannot begin until there is a formal approval.

The 2019 gaming expansion bill allows for six new casinos to be built in Illinois. However, the process has moved at a snail’s pace.

Several groups applied in October 2019, and the IGB was supposed to make a decision within a year. But this past October, the IGB kicked the can down the road, asking eight applicants to amend their applications.

Hard Rock was one of those applicants.

If approved on Feb. 4, one of the biggest casino brands in the US would likely be coming to Illinois.

What we know about Hard Rock Casino Rockford

A Hard Rock Casino Rockford website already exists. Visitors are greeted with the following information:

The Hard Rock Casino Rockford, located at the intersection of State Street and I-90, will feature 64,000 feet of gaming space, a variety of dining options, and a Hard Rock Live entertainment venue. The project will generate over 1,000 part-time and full-time jobs once in operation and a minimum annual payment of $7 million to the City of Rockford in gaming revenue. Many thanks to the Rockford community for all your support and enthusiasm.

The website also estimates that the casino will generate anywhere from $50 million to $60 million in annual tax revenue.

It would cost about $310 million to build.

Officials also say that they would run a temporary gaming facility that would open about 90 days after final approval. It would only offer slots.

The casino eventually hopes to include a 1,600-seat entertainment venue. Approximately 65,000 cars drive past the site every day, according to the website, so the location seems ideal.

At the moment, Hollywood Casino Aurora and Grand Victoria Casino Elgin are the closest casinos to Rockford.

Both, however, are about an hour’s drive away.

Located in the northern part of Illinois, Rockford has the fifth-highest population in the state, with about 147,000 residents.

What about other new casinos?

While the Rockford development might soon bring good news, other applicants are still waiting.

In October, the following groups had to amend their applications, in addition to Hard Rock. They are:

  • CDI-RSG Waukegan, LLC d/b/a Rivers Waukegan Casino (Waukegan License)
  • Full House Resorts, Inc. d/b/a American Place (Waukegan License)
  • Lakeside Casino, LLC d/b/a North Point Casino (Waukegan License)
  • Southland LIVE, LLC d/b/a Southland Live (South Suburban License)
  • South Suburban Development, LLC (South Suburban License)
  • Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, LLC (Williamson County License)
  • Wind Creek, LLC (South Suburban License)

As you can see, the Rockford situation is less complicated than some other regions due to multiple applicants for the same license.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, the IGB announced that Full House Resorts, Inc. had to amend its application once again.

IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter said in October that applicants should reasonably expect to have a decision within six months, which would be some time in April.

Two more regions not listed above should also have casinos in the future: Danville and Chicago.

Golden Nugget will assume the Danville license, while the downtown Chicago casino still has a lot of things to figure out, such as a location.

As of now, Hard Rock Casino Rockford is the favorite to be the next casino built in Illinois. It would be the 11th in the state.

Illinois casinos reopen

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker closed Illinois casinos in mid-November due to a statewide COVID-19 surge. But as of this writing, all Illinois casinos are reopened to varying degrees.

Here are the 10 retail casinos in the Land of Lincoln:

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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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