Rivers Casino Near Chicago Unveils $87M Expansion Plans, Includes Poker Room

Posted on February 22, 2021

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines has big expansion plans in mind.

The casino filed its plans with the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) and the city of Des Plaines last week. If approved, Rivers Casino’s 78,000-square-foot expansion will include a two-story addition, a poker room and more slots and table games.

Rivers Casino would host an additional 725 new gaming positions,” aka seats. It would make the Illinois casino the first to reach the maximum of 2,000 gaming positions that state regulations allow.

Churchill Downs Incorporated

The proposed $87 million expansion also includes a 10,000 square-foot ballroom for events and a new restaurant.

Rush Street Gaming and Churchill Downs Incorporated own Rivers Casino, which easily brought in the most revenue of any Illinois casino last year.

Corey Wise, the senior vice president and general manager of Rivers Casino, said:

“Rivers is Illinois’ most popular casino destination, and with this expansion, we are continuing to focus on our guests to earn their loyalty. We were the first casino to become land-based to expand our gaming floor. BetRivers was the state’s first sportsbook to open and we provided fans with the state’s first mobile sports betting option. When complete, we will be the first casino in Illinois to offer our guests 2,000 gaming positions.”

The plans require approval from IGB and zoning approval from the city of Des Plaines.

If the casino plans get a green light, construction can begin in the spring and be completed in early 2022.

CEO Greg Carlin, the co-founder of Rush Street Gaming, said:

“With this proposed expansion, we will be able to offer our guests more of the entertainment and dining options they enjoy, additional gaming opportunities and a long-desired poker room. We have always offered a first-class experience for our guests. As the economy reopens, we’re excited to raise the bar and provide them with an even better experience.”

New casinos could come to Illinois

Rivers is currently the most popular casino in Illinois, and it should be for the foreseeable future.

But thanks to the 2019 gaming expansion bill, six new casinos can be built in the Land of Lincoln.

So far, the Hard Rock Casino Rockford has been found preliminarily suitable by the IGB, and is only one step away from final approval.

With that said, Rivers’ most significant competition would likely come from the future downtown Chicago casino that was included in the gaming expansion.

Illinois is likely years away from the downtown Chicago casino coming to fruition, though. The IGB has moved at a slow pace in assessing applications, and downtown Chicago doesn’t seem to be close to submitting materials.

The other casino locations would be in Waukegan, Danville, Williamson County and the south suburbs.

Would online casino in Illinois also help Rivers?

The short answer: of course. But it could especially help Rivers Casino.

State Rep. Bob Rita filed an online casino bill last week, which will be a significant ongoing topic in the Illinois gaming industry going forward.

The bill included a six-month, in-person registration period, similar to the one briefly experienced with Illinois sports wagering.

If the policy is enacted, Rivers is at an advantage, thanks to its popularity and location. It is just outside of Chicago and will be the closest casino to the downtown area until one is built there.

These expansion plans would certainly enhance the Rivers Casino experience for first-time visitors.

Photo by Dreamstime.com
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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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