Key Springfield officials are interested in bringing a casino to the state capital in the future. But Springfield’s Committee of the Whole tabled a resolution at a meeting last week that would have been a key step in the process.
Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder told Fox Illinois that he’d like to see some fine-tuning of the resolution:
“So, what this allows us to do is formulate more details about what we would like to see. Especially with the gap of convention center space or kind of prove our case.”
Anyone following Illinois gaming knows, securing a casino license is an extremely long process. Langfelder said that finalizing a resolution would only be the first step.
The 2019 gaming bill allows for six new casinos in Illinois to be built in various regions around the state. Springfield was not one of those regions.
However, that bill passed in 2019, and no new licenses have been handed out since.
So those waiting for a Springfield casino will, best case, be waiting for quite a while.
Why does Springfield want a casino?
Langfelder said that a casino would bring “unprecedented growth and economic impact” to Springfield.
While that is the primary reason, Springfield is also currently in a no-mans-land of sorts for casinos, as none are easily accessible.
Currently, the closest casino to Springfield in Illinois is the Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria. Par-A-Dice is about a 70-minute drive — not exactly a stone’s throw.
The six new casino licenses are in the following regions: Chicago, Waukegan, Danville, Williamson County, Rockford and the south suburbs.
Danville is the closest of those regions to Springfield, and it’s nearly a two-hour drive away.
What’s the status of other new Illinois casinos?
Almost two years after Illinois passed the 2019 gaming bill, there’s not much news on the Illinois casino front.
In February, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) found the plans for Hard Rock Casino in Rockford “preliminarily suitable” for a license.
While that’s a key step in the process, Hard Rock still hasn’t secured a license.
Meanwhile, the IGB has not yet deemed any other applicant preliminarily suitable. Several applied back in October 2019, and many have criticized the IGB for its slow pace.
Count Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot as one of those critics. Chicago recently submitted a Request For Proposals for its casino license and hopes to select a winning bidder by the end of the year.
Chicago is not as far along as some of the other prospective regions, and has not submitted any application materials yet. But Lightfoot is already lobbying the IGB to speed things up once that time comes.
This is all part of the reason why Springfield is in no rush to finalize its resolution, according to Langfelder.