The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) is green-lighting Penn Entertainment’s plans to relocate its two riverboat Illinois casinos. This means Hollywood Casino Aurora and Hollywood Casino Joliet will be on the move.
Back in October 2022, Penn announced plans to relocate its suburban Chicago casinos to new land-based facilities. The move is part of the company’s efforts to invest over $500 million in reconstructing its gaming properties and making them more accessible.
Penn Entertainment officials say the investment is necessary to keep the Hollywood Casinos competitive in the Chicago-area market. Also, the moves will create hundreds of new full-time jobs in each community.
Where Penn’s casinos are going
Specifically, the Hollywood Casino Aurora will move from its site on a downtown island in the Fox River to a land-based location near the Chicago Premium Outlets mall and the Fermilab campus.
Notably, the new $360 million development will have a casino with 900 slot machines and 50 table games. It will also have a 200-room hotel, bars and restaurants, 10,000 square feet of meeting space and a convention center.
Meanwhile, the current Hollywood Casino Joliet, sitting on a riverboat on the Des Plaines River southwest of Will County city, will be replaced with a $185 million land-based casino in the Rock Run Crossings development at the intersection of Interstates 80 and 55.
And, that casino will feature approximately 800 slot machines and 45 table games, including a baccarat room, a Barstool Sportsbook, bars and restaurants, meeting space, and an event center.
“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,” said Marcus Fruchter, administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board. “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.”
Construction on both projects is expected to begin in late 2023, pending final regulatory approval.
What the casino moves could mean for local communities
Aurora and Joliet rank second and third, in population among cities in Illinois. Their combined population is around 330,000 people.
Penn president and CEO Jay Snowden says the Aurora project will also include the transfer of specific parcels of land from the city to the company and $50 million in funding from a new bond issuance subject to approval by the Aurora City Council.
Specifically, the Aurora venue is located in the downtown part of the city. Yet, Penn is targeting a location by the city’s outlet mall. And, that location has substantial traffic flow coming from Interstate 88.
“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,” said Snowden.
Further, Snowden says the planned Hollywood Joliet casino will be close to the I-80 and I-55 interchange. That offers exceptional visibility and accessibility.
Hollywood Aurora ranks fourth among state casinos in adjusted revenue generated in 2022 with $75.2 million. Hollywood Joliet is fifth with nearly $66 million.
The relocation proposals for these two casinos are part of a wider expansion of casinos in Illinois. Other casino construction projects underway include:
- Wind Creek Chicago Southland
- Bally’s temporary Chicago casino at The Medinah Temple
- Bally’s permanent Chicago casino
- New casinos in Waukegan, Rockford, Danville, and Walker’s Bluff.