Walker’s Bluff Casino Gives Update But Still Waiting For Update From IGB

Written By Joe Boozell on March 26, 2021

Elite Casino Resorts is vying for the Williamson County casino license, and we now know more details about the proposed facility. What we don’t know is when the Illinois Gaming Board will make a decision about its license application.

The Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort would feature more than 650 slot machines and 20 table games in addition to a sportsbook, hotel, pool, spa, and event center.

Elite Casino Resorts owns three casinos in Iowa. It is currently the only applicant for the Williamson County license.

Williamson County is located in southern Illinois.

Previously, Elite Casino Resorts planned to divide construction into multiple phases. Now, it plans to build everything in a single construction phase.

“The new proposed construction schedule allows us to open the casino, hotel, spa, and all of our signature Elite amenities sooner, giving new customers a great first impression of the new Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort,” said Dan Kehl, CEO of Elite Casino Resorts.

Of course, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) has been very slow in accepting new casino applicants.

But there is at least a chance Elite Casino Resorts will receive some good news within the month.

Illinois casino applicants should have an answer by May

In 2019, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed gaming expansion into law. The bill opened up six new casino licenses in the Land of Lincoln.

It’s 2021, and zero licenses have officially been handed out. The IGB found Hard Rock Casino Rockford “preliminarily suitable” for a license in February, a key step in securing final approval.

But no other applicants have even reached that point. Applicants were supposed to have an answer in October 2020, as that marked a year since most applied. The decision deadline was supposedly a year.

Instead, the IGB kicked the can down the road, telling applicants that they should “reasonably expect” to have a decision within six months.

We’ll reach that six-month mark in late April, and the next IGB meeting is on April 21. We may get some casino news at that meeting.

We may also not, based on how slowly the process has moved thus far.

Walker’s Bluff the lone applicant for Williamson Co. license

Now that the Hard Rock Rockford has been found preliminarily suitable, there are five casino licenses up for grabs. They are located in the following regions:

  • Williamson County
  • Waukegan
  • South Suburbs
  • Danville
  • Chicago

Here is the pending list of applicants, and you’ll notice Walker’s Bluff has no competition for the Williamson County license:

  • CDI-RSG Waukegan, LLC d/b/a Rivers Waukegan Casino (Waukegan License)
  • Full House Resorts, Inc. d/b/a American Place (Waukegan License)
  • Lakeside Casino, LLC d/b/a North Point Casino (Waukegan License)
  • Southland LIVE, LLC d/b/a Southland Live (South Suburban License)
  • South Suburban Development, LLC (South Suburban License)
  • Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, LLC (Williamson County License)
  • Wind Creek, LLC (South Suburban License)

Therefore, Walker’s Bluff has reason to be confident. The other applicants on the list have to worry about losing out to another bid, whereas Walker’s Bluff does not. It just needs IGB approval.

Did Walker’s Bluff change its construction timeline because it thought it might increase the chances of receiving IGB approval? Perhaps, and we should find out on or before April 21.

Photo by Savin Sorin Matei Contescu | 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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