South Chicago’s Wind Creek Casino Could Open By July 2024

Written By Hill Kerby on November 22, 2023
Image of the skyline of Chicago, where the new wind creek southland casino may open as soon as July 2024

After multiple delays, a new Chicago casino has announced good news about its future opening date.

Wind Creek Chicago Southland Casino is on pace to open in 2024, potentially as early as July.

The 73,000-square-foot casino has been in the works since 2022. South Chicagoans have eagerly anticipated its arrival among The Windy City’s future casinos. Original plans slated the Illinois casino to open between mid-2023 and early 2024, but an 18-month delay pushed it back to January 2025.

That date is now between three and six months sooner.

Wind Creek Casino expects to open in Q3 of 2024

Wind Creek Chicago could become the state’s 16th casino when it opens next year. Illinois online casinos are not legal, but lawmakers are expected to consider legalizing them in the next legislative session, which begins in January.

Until recently, Chicagoans have had to travel outside the city to visit a casino. A 2019 amendment opened the door for Chicago casinos. Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot opened the window for proposals in 2021.

Wind Creek chose to construct a permanent facility from the get-go, unlike the recently opened temporary Bally’s Chicago Casino. That pushed back a possible opening date, but it will result in an earlier delivery of the finished product. Bally’s temporary casino opened Sept. 9 but has yet to break ground on its permanent casino.

According to Roger Kuehn, executive vice president and general manager of Wind Creek Chicago Southland, mild weather over the last few months extended the outdoor building season, which pushed up the timeline from its previous estimate of January 2025. Budget cuts reduced the project’s scope, taking it from 21 stories down to 16.

As a result, Kuehn expects the project’s structure to top out and be fully enclosed by mid-January, if not sooner. Such an accomplishment would allow work to begin inside the property during the winter. This includes electrical, plumbing and computer systems, Kuehn told the Chicago Tribune.

“It is still kind of a dart throw, but I would expect sometime in third quarter of 2024. I think that is a fair timeline.”

Looking back at the Wind Creek delays

After winning the South Suburbs casino bid, Wind Creek hoped to jump into construction plans and open its facility by mid-2023. Shortly after this announcement, plans came out for the casino to open in spring 2024.

However, further delays surrounding the facility’s exact location ensued and pushed back the project’s completion date. The casino’s suburban location sits within two suburbs, Homewood and East Hazel Crest, which approved new redevelopment agreements with a scheduled opening date of January 2025.

Wind Creek announced in October that it received a $290 million loan from PCI Gaming Authority to help fund its construction on the property. PCI is a branch of Wind Creek.

The casino will offer 1,350 slot machines and 56 table games inside 73,000 square feet of gaming space when it opens. It will also have a 35,000-square-foot conference center, banquet hall and 15,800-square-foot entertainment venue.

Hotel will open around 5 months after casino

According to Kuehn, Wind Creek Chicago Southland will have a 252-room AAA Four Diamond hotel that will open four or five months after the casino. It will have 53 luxury suites, an indoor pool, a fitness center and a spa.

Kuehn said the project has received support from the community and local leaders like Harvey Mayor Christopher J. Clark and Sen. Napoleon B. Harris III. Wind Creek has already partnered with the Chicago Bulls.

“The community is embracing us, and they can’t wait for us to open,” Kuehn said. “They’re dying to play and see the concerts we’ll have.”

Wind Creek has promised to support the local community in various ways. It created the Southland Public Benefit Fund, which plans to award $150,000 in annual scholarships to disadvantaged students. Wind Creek also says it will employ people from all ethnic backgrounds and within the LGBTQ community.

When it opens, the casino expects to create 800 permanent jobs. It has begun searching for qualified candidates in leadership roles and will host job fairs around two months before the casino’s opening date.

Photo by AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski
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Hill Kerby

Hill Kerby is a proponent of safe, legal betting, and is grateful to be able to contribute to growing the industry. He has a background in poker, sports, and psychology, all of which he incorporates into his writing.

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