UPDATE: As of Nov. 10, the Rockford temporary casino is open.
The Hard Rock Rockford temporary casino was supposed to open in October, but the new plan is to launch at some point in November.
We don’t yet know the exact date. The temporary casino will be inside the former Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center.
Dawn Reynolds-Pettit, the Hard Rock International regional vice president for human resources, told the Rockford Register Star of the delay:
“We want to make sure that when we open that everything is ready. There’s the regulatory side and we want to make sure we are doing everything in compliance. We want to make sure all our new band members have the opportunity to be onboarded and trained, so when we open it’s the best experience for our guests and the best experience for our team members.”
“Band members” are what Hard Rock is calling its temporary casino employees. It will take about 250 of them to open the casino properly, and there are still several job openings.
Once open, the temporary casino will have 736 slot machines and two restaurants. The renovation of the Giovanini’s space could cost about $8.8 million.
The temporary casino could be open for about 18 to 24 months.
What about the permanent casino?
The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) still needs to approve Hard Rock’s final building plans before construction on the permanent facility can begin. That should happen soon.
The project will cost about $310 million. Located at the intersection of State Street and I-90, the Hard Rock expects to generate over 1,000 full-and part-time jobs. It will be less than a mile away from the temporary casino.
The casino will feature 64,000 square feet of gaming space and a Hard Rock Live entertainment venue.
It sounds like quite the endeavor, and it might not even be Hard Rock’s loftiest aspiration in Illinois.
Hard Rock bid on the Chicago casino license
The city of Chicago has five casino license proposals, one of which is from Hard Rock.
We don’t yet know where Hard Rock’s proposed location is. Bally’s and Rush Street Gaming have also submitted bids.
Hard Rock was quiet for a while regarding its Chicago casino plans, but company CEO Jim Allen tipped his hand early last week.
We expect to learn the winning license bidder in 2022.
Hard Rock also has a new casino in Gary
If Hard Rock winds up securing the Chicago casino license, it will have quite the presence in Illinois and northwest Indiana.
Hard Rock recently opened a casino in Gary. Gary is about a 35-minute drive from downtown Chicago.
That’s much closer than Rockford, which is about an hour and a half drive from downtown Chicago. With that said, Rockford is the fifth-largest city in Illinois in its own right.
Rush Street is still the favorite to land the Chicago casino license. However, if one thing is clear, it’s that Hard Rock is dreaming big.