Hollywood Aurora Casino Relocation Project Faces Key Votes This Week

Written By T.J. McBride on January 9, 2024 - Last Updated on January 11, 2024
Rendering of the future Hollywood Aurora Casino on a story about the city council voting to approve its move to land.

Now that casinos can move off waterways in Illinois, Hollywood Casino Aurora expects to be given final approval this week to relocate onto dry land.

The casino’s relocation project faces a series of votes this month by the Aurora City Council. The final vote will be to establish a new TIF District outside of school district boundaries.

In addition to the relocation of its Aurora location, PENN Entertainment is also moving its Hollywood casino in Joliet off the river.

PENN confident it will begin construction on a new Aurora casino soon

The Illinois casino market consists of 15 casinos. The two Hollywood casinos have been mainly middle of the pack in most revenue metrics. Illinois online casinos remain illegal.

There are three ordinances being voted on by members of the Aurora City Council on Jan. 9. One ordinance is about approving the project area redevelopment plan. The second is designating the area for the future casino resort. The last ordinance is adopting a new TIF District.

It is highly likely these votes will be in favor of PENN. The city has already agreed to put forward $50 million to help fund the $360 million casino complex project. That money will be repaid by proceeds collected through the new TIF District agreement. It is expected to generate around $5.5 million each year.

The city has also taken steps to officially lock in the new TIF district. The final plan has been approved. There is already an engineer working on the required infrastructure around the casino. The city had also provided buying options for prospective properties, with PENN ultimately purchasing the land the casino will move to.

PENN CEO and President Jay Snowden is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, according to a press release.

“We are thrilled to soon begin construction on a new, state-of-the-art Hollywood Casino Aurora. Our tremendous and long-lasting partnership with the city of Aurora has provided an opportunity to relocate our property to an ideal location that will significantly improve our offerings and further our positive economic impact on the community.”

Future Hollywood Casino Aurora promises to be ‘best-in-class’ resort

This new casino being built by PENN in Aurora is not just going to be another gaming facility. The plans are much bigger, as they include an entertainment resort.

According to Snowden, this new Hollywood Casino Aurora is going to be one of the best in the market.

“Our plan for Aurora is to construct a modern, best-in-class casino and hotel in an ideal location off I-88 that will allow us to serve the millions of visitors to the adjacent Simon Premium Outlet Mall.”

The destination casino has plans to build a 200-room hotel. There will also be convention space available that will span across 10,000 square feet. The gaming floor currently is expected to house around 900 slot machines and 50 table games. Additionally, there will be a poker room and a baccarat room.

PENN casino in Joliet making a similar move

Hollywood Casino Joliet is also on its way inland after operating out of a riverboat since 2005.

The location for the new casino will be at the intersection of interstates 80 and 55, where the Rock Run Crossing development sits. The new Hollywood Casino Joliet, which broke ground on Dec. 13, will house 800 slot machines and 45 table games.

There will also be a baccarat room and a sportsbook. There are also plans to add a plethora of bars and restaurants, an events center and meeting space.

These moves could be game-changers for PENN. Aurora and Joliet are the second and third most-populated cities in Illinois.

Both casinos still need to secure regulatory approval. But Marcus Fruchter, an administrator with the Illinois Gaming Board, told the Associated Press that regulators will continue to work with Penn to get both casino relocation projects across the finish line.

“Approval of the relocation proposals for the Hollywood Aurora and Hollywood Joliet casinos are a significant step in the regulatory process to bring new gaming venues to these host communities. The IGB will work with Penn Entertainment as it moves through the regulatory process to ensure these relocated casino venues are constructed, opened and operated in an efficient, ethical and compliant manner.”

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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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