Land-based casino given tick in Illinois

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Land-based casino given tick in Illinois

The Illinois Gaming Board has granted the state’s first land-based casino licence to Rivers Casino, European Gaming reports.

Granted under the sweeping expansion of the state’s gaming sector that was signed into law in June, the new licence enables operator Rush Street Gaming to move its gambling operation beyond the shallow pool of water it built to qualify as a riverboat.

Rivers Casino opened in 2011 under the provisions of the Riverboat Gambling Act of 1990.

Rush Street plans to invest $150 million to expand the casino and increase the number of gaming positions to 2,000.

Under the bill, the state’s 10 existing riverboat casinos are allowed to operate on land with approval from the board and the payment of a $250,000 fee.

“We’re incrementally adding these games,” said casino spokesman Patrick Skarr.

“By going land-based, we can reconfigure some of our existing footprint not above water, add these games and positions within that and then move forward with our larger expansion program.”

Times have changed since Riverboat Act

When Illinois enacted the Riverboat Gambling Act in 1990, casinos were not only required to be located on a river, but actually had to set sail during gambling sessions.

By the time Rivers was granted what was to be the state’s 10th and final licence, the seafaring requirements had been dramatically eased.

Launched in 2011, Rivers Casino was built over a shallow pit of water near the Tri-State Tollway to comply with state law.

It quickly became the state’s top grossing riverboat casino, generating more than $400 million annually in gaming revenue.

The gambling expansion bill opens the door to everything from sports betting to so-called racinos at horse racing tracks.

It provides for six new casino licences and allows existing casinos to increase the number of gaming positions, measures aimed at reversing a decline in casino revenues statewide.

The state received 10 applications for five of the six new casino licences by an October 28 deadline, excluding a proposed Chicago casino.

Plans for a casino in the city have been stalled by concerns that a 33.3 per cent gambling tax for the city was prohibitive for developers.

Rush Street Gaming sold a 61 per cent stake in Rivers Casino to Louisville-based Churchill Downs in March.

The Rivers partnership is one of three applicants for a new casino in Waukegan.

The gaming board received four applications for a proposed casino in the south suburbs, which would be located in either Calumet City, Homewood/East Hazel Crest, Lynwood or Matteson.

In addition, the board received one application each for new casinos in Rockford, Danville and Williamson County in southern Illinois.

At its meeting last Thursday, the gaming board said it would open up the application process for the state’s first legalised sports betting facilities next month.

Under the bill, the state’s 10 casinos, three horse tracks and seven largest sports facilities can acquire a sports gaming licence for an initial fee of no more than $10 million each.

Three online-only licences will be made available at $20 million each.

Rivers has already begun building a sports bar in Des Plaines, which will become a sports book, pending approval from the state, Skarr said.

New Illinois casino plans published

Developers have finally laid their chips on the table as plans for the hotly anticipated development of a new casino in Illinois has been unveiled by the city.

Top US Casinos reports the development, which is slated for the suburb of Waukegan to the far north of Chicago, is among six locations that are in line for new casinos after historic gambling expansion legislation passed into law earlier this summer in Illinois.

In total, the city received six proposals for the Waukegan site.

However, two of those are linked, meaning there are five plans competing to be chosen.

Each of those plans offer a snapshot of the ambitious facilities that are proposed at the site of the shuttered Fountain Square shopping centre at Lakehurst Road and Northpoint Boulevard, according to a report in suburban Chicago newspaper the Daily Herald.

The ambitious plans include everything from helipads and villas to fountains and cavernous concert halls according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times.

Though the documents released by the city are heavily redacted to protect trade secrets and financial information, they do still provide some interesting information about the proposed developments and what each of them might entail.

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