After Year’s Wait, No New Illinois Casino Licenses Handed Out At Special IGB Meeting

Posted By Joe Boozell on October 29, 2020 - Last Updated on November 9, 2020

The Oct. 28, 2020, deadline for four new Illinois casino license decisions has come and gone. And none were handed out at Thursday’s special Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) meeting.

Instead, eight applicants will amend their license applications. Those are:

  • 815 Entertainment, LLC d/b/a Hard Rock Casino Rockford (Rockford License)
  • 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)

A Danville license is also up for grabs, but Haven Gaming withdrew its application in July. The Wilmot family now holds principal interest but has yet to submit its materials to the IGB.

By law, the IGB has a year to rule on a casino application from the date it receives one. But if it doesn’t meet that deadline, it can hold a special public meeting or give a written explanation for an extension.

IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter said on Oct. 27 that the board provided a written explanation for the delay to pending applicants.

He also said that the Rockford, Williamson County, Waukegan and South Suburban applicants could reasonably expect to have a decision within six months, which would set the new deadline at the end of April 2021.

The 2019 Illinois Gambling Act green-lit six new casinos in Illinois. The sixth, which will be located in Chicago, is moving even slower than the others.

Frustration mounting among casino applicants prior to IGB meeting

There were plenty of rumblings before the special meeting about applicants’ frustration with the slow-moving process.

In August, State Rep. Anthony DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights, and Kristi DeLaurentiis, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, wrote a letter to the IGB urging them to speed up the process.

“We respectfully remind you that this south suburban license is long overdue and a decision delayed is a decision denied,” DeLuca and DeLaurentiis wrote. “COVID-19 cannot be allowed to serve as a reason for inaction. The deadline as set forth in the statute is approaching and the future of nearly a million residents rests in your hands.”

In a September board meeting, Fruchter appeared to point the finger back at the applicants, saying the following:

“The staff’s already substantial work is made more complicated when applicants and existing licensees neglect to provide timely, complete answers, documents and disclosures or responses to any other board requests. Most make timely and accurate disclosures, but the ones that don’t gum up the works for everyone.”

Illinois has 10 operating casinos

At the moment, Illinois has 10 open casinos. They are:

  • Argosy Casino Alton
  • DraftKings at Casino Queen
  • Grand Victoria Casino Elgin
  • Harrah’s Joliet
  • Harrah’s Metropolis
  • Hollywood Casino Aurora
  • Hollywood Casino Joliet
  • Jumer’s Casino & Hotel
  • Par-A-Dice Casino
  • Rivers Casino

That list will grow at some point, but key stakeholders can’t be thrilled with the 2019 bill’s implementation thus far.

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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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