On the outside, The Temporary by American Place looks like a massive hay barn. But once you step inside, the newest Illinois casino exceeded my expectations.
On a Wednesday afternoon in late March, I took a trip to The Temporary in Waukegan to see it for myself. I live in Chicago, and the drive there was a breeze. It took about an hour and was a straight shot up I-94.
While there, I spoke to a pair of Milwaukee citizens who also expressed how easy the drive was. So, The Temporary, which is the short-term location for American Place’s permanent casino set to open in 2025, already checked the box of easy accessibility.
But let’s see how it fared in the areas that really matter: the gaming options and in-casino atmosphere.
A slot player’s paradise
If you’re a fan of slot machines, The Temporary is the place for you. They have nearly 1,000 slots scattered throughout the building. So, even on a busy day, you’re likely to find a seat at the ones you prefer.
When I made my visit, it was maybe 20% full. So the slot machine availability was plentiful.
However, I never play slot machines. They’ve never been my cup of tea, so when I sat in front of one at The Temporary, I was a bit lost. Luckily, there were a lot of employees available to direct me to popular games for beginners.
One employee named Steven kindly pointed me in the right direction and gave me the basics on playing slots. Unfortunately, Steven wasn’t my lucky charm as I quickly lost all the money I deposited into the machine. Of course, I’m not faulting Steven for that.
The Temporary also has 50 table games, but only about a third of them were open when I was in attendance. The table minimum was $15 and the casino was offering all the classics: craps, roulette, blackjack and more.
Unfortunately, there’s no IL sportsbook at The Temporary. But that should change by the end of 2023.
Circa Sportsbook and Full House, the casino’s owner and operator, have a partnership and are currently waiting to receive the proper licensing from the Illinois Gaming Board. If/when they get that, a sportsbook will open at The Temporary, and Circa will launch an IL mobile sports betting app.
Are too many slots a bad thing?
The one knock I’ll give to the Temporary in regards to its gaming selection is the tight spaces created by housing almost 1,000 slot machines. The Temporary is a big place, but the high number of slot machines made for some tight walking lanes when moving through the casino.
When I went, it was no big deal because the casino wasn’t very full. But during primetime hours, I could see it becoming a bit congested in certain areas of the casino.
Outside of that, I was impressed with the gaming options offered by The Temporary.
The atmosphere was upbeat and lively
I was a fan of the ambience at The Temporary. Its decor has a ‘day at the lake’ theme thanks to the casino’s close proximity to Lake Michigan. Waukegan Municipal Beach is only a 15 minute drive away.
In the middle of the casino is a roughly 40-seat bar with a massive six-canoe chandelier overhead. Plus, each barstool has its own video poker screen.
Hanging from the ceiling throughout the rest of The Temporary are canoe paddles and leafy, forestry decorations. It provides a unique lake day combined with a Vegas-style casino atmosphere that I quite enjoyed.
Cleanliness and dining options
The Temporary was extremely clean. I’m talking eat off the floors clean (I wouldn’t actually recommend this).
There wasn’t trash left at the slot machines by customers, or crumpled up bet vouchers, or dust gathering on the slots that often get passed over. There were no areas of the casino you could point to and say are dirty, bathrooms included.
The dining options were a bit limited. Only one of the three restaurants at The Temporary were open. The other two are still being worked on, it appeared. The one open food spot was L’Americain, which served buffet-style American cuisine.
I spoke to a few guests that weren’t impressed with the food options and warned that it wasn’t worth the money, so I took their advice.
There were also two Airstream trailers converted into food trucks. Served there were hot dogs, paninis, sandwiches, beer and coffee — the basics.
The Temporary is worth a visit
Overall, I was happy with my experience at The Temporary. It was easy to get to, clean, the staff was friendly, the atmosphere was energetic and there was no shortage of gaming options.
It’s certainly worth a visit so you can see it for yourself, and the casino is only going to get better once the Circa Sportsbook and restaurants are open.