We should know the winning bidders for the Waukegan and south suburban casino licenses by mid-January, according to Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) administrator Marcus Fruchter.
During Thursday’s board meeting, Fruchter said that Illinois law requires the IGB to hire a consultant to evaluate the applicants when there are multiple bids for one license, as there are in Waukegan and the south suburbs.
The board hired a consultant on July 9, and the IGB says it will have a decision within six months.
Not only will it have a winning bidder, but the IGB will also have findings for “preliminary suitability.” So, the casino-approval process should really ramp up in 2022.
“We anticipate that based on current knowledge, we will make a decision regarding both competitive selection process winners for Waukegan and south suburbs and preliminary suitability within six months of the gaming board retaining the consultant.”
Here are the applicants for the Waukegan license:
- CDI-RSG Waukegan, LLC d/b/a Rivers Waukegan Casino
- Full House Resorts, Inc. d/b/a American Place
- Lakeside Casino, LLC d/b/a North Point Casino
Here are the applicants for the south suburban license:
- Southland LIVE, LLC d/b/a Southland Live
- South Suburban Development, LLC
- Wind Creek, LLC
There will be a special meeting on Oct. 13 where the applicants can present their cases to the board.
The IGB has found casinos in Rockford and Williamson County “preliminarily suitable” to date. But those licenses only attracted one bidder, hence the speedier processes.
Though, generally speaking, most would not consider anything about the Illinois casino license process “speedy.” Many of these development groups applied all the way back in October 2019.
Why people are upset with the new Illinois casino process
Five south suburban lawmakers recently tried to get Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker involved in the new casino process in an effort to quicken the pace.
They wrote in their letter to Pritzker:
“Your constituents in south suburban Chicago have suffered many hardships in the last two years, but none may be worse than the failure of their own government to act on legislatively sanctioned proposals to create new jobs, higher incomes and more robust local economies.
“Please spur IGB into action. Every day that we delay the casino project in the Southland — where annual household incomes range as low as $27,000 — means another day that families in our area are denied chances to win better jobs and better incomes.”
Many thought there would be a decision by October 2020. The IGB kicked the can down the road then. It appears that the Illinois bureaucracy has gotten in the way to a certain extent.
January 2022 is quite a bit after October 2020, but interested parties at least have a firm timeline after Thursday’s meeting.
Walker’s Bluff Casino update
The IGB found Walker’s Bluff Casino in Williamson County “preliminarily suitable” earlier this year. On Thursday, Walker’s Bluff requested to amend its application.
It has yet to request the start of the construction process, but expects to within the next few weeks. Then, Walker’s Bluff hopes to begin construction in October. It expects construction to take about 18 months.
That would put the tentative opening date for Walker’s Bluff in April 2023. It does not expect to partially open any time before that, though that could change depending on how the construction process goes.