After an 18-month delay, the Wind Creek casino project looks ready to proceed.
Wind Creek Hospitality, developer of the project being built on land 20 miles south of Chicago, has been given a loan that will help fund construction. This new funding should kick-start a project that originally broke ground more than a year ago.
When will Wind Creek Chicago Southland open?
The casino resort is now set to open in January 2025.
Plans call for a 73,000-square-foot gaming floor
Once Wind Creek goes online, it will join a long and growing list of Illinois casinos.
Bally’s Chicago recently opened as a temporary casino in downtown Chicago while its permanent resort in River West is under construction.
Wind Creek Hospitality has received a $290 million loan to help fund the Wind Creek Chicago Southland Casino, as well as the accompanying hotel and entertainment center. PCI Gaming Authority is loaning the money. It is a branch of Wind Creek, so, essentially, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians tribe, which owns Wind Creek, is loaning the money to itself.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe that is based in Alabama. The expected total cost to build the project is $529 million, which has increased from an original estimate of $440 million.
Plans for the casino call for a massive 73,000-square-foot gaming floor that will contain 1,350 slot machines and 56 table games. The hotel will have 252 rooms along with restaurants and other entertainment options. An events center will span 75,000 square feet.
Additionally, there will be an indoor pool area, full-service spa and an attached parking garage. There have also been talks of a partnership with Ravisloe Country Club to add a golf course.
PCI Gaming Authority President and CEO Jay Dorris says the new facility will be more than just a casino.
“Wind Creek Hospitality will not just build a casino, but truly create a community in the South Suburbs with job creation, community investment and sustained operational excellence.”
Wind Creek’s efforts to support the local community include plans to set aside jobs specifically for members of the LBGQT community and minorities. It also created the Southland Public Benefit Fund to give out $150,000 annual scholarships to students in need. After the first year, Wind Creek is planning to donate $1 million each year to community programs and services.
Casino expects to draw customers from Indiana
The new Wind Creek casino is expected to accumulate $155 million in revenue in its first year and over $200 million a year by its seventh year of operation.
Along with the cost estimate being extended by nearly $100 million, a completion date has also been revised, from late 2023 to early 2025.
Construction on 24 acres of land in the Chicago suburbs of Homewood and East Hazel Crest originally began in 2022 soon after the land was purchased for $25 million from Mark and Jon Weglarz. The brothers operate multiple hotels around Midway Airport and work in real estate. A new redevelopment agreement between Homewood and East Hazel Crest pushed the project back 18 months.
Construction of the project will provide about 600 jobs. Once it officially opens its doors, the new casino complex will create around 800 permanent jobs.
Th casino’s location could make it a success. The Indiana state line is just a few miles west. And it will sit on I-80, where an estimated 80 million vehicles will pass by it every year. State Sen. Napoleon B. Harris III agrees that its location will make it popular.
“The easy-to-access location creates a solid foundation for the proposed quality ‘four diamond’ casino and entertainment complex; one that will maximize revenue and draw significant out-of-state visitors on a continuing basis from across the border in Indiana.”
Wind Creek has a Chicago-area presence through its partnership with Bulls
Wind Creek Chicago Southland does have a head start connecting with the area. At the end of 2022, it announced a partnership with the Chicago Bulls. The partnership includes in-arena entertainment branding at the United Center where the Bulls play as well as other marketing through the Bulls’ social media channels.
For Brett Pinkston, COO of Wind Creek hospitality, there was no better way to introduce Wind Creek to the Chicago area and the state of Illinois.
“As a new brand coming to the Chicagoland market, we believed it was important to establish a name for ourselves and a level of credibility with the local market as quickly as possible. Being a native of the region, I can’t imagine a better way to accomplish that task than to partner with the Bulls organization and introduce ourselves to one of the largest and most loyal fan bases in professional sports. It lets us enter the market with a huge voice.”
The Bulls are also happy with the partnership, according to Mark Levitt, Bulls vice president of business development.
“We are excited to partner with Wind Creek over the next few seasons to bring fans new in-arena competitions, social content and sweepstakes. This new partnership will support our ongoing efforts to further elevate the gameday experience for Bulls fans at the United Center and across our social platforms.”