Owners of Rivers Casino in Des Plains Enter Competition for Waukegan Casino License

The owners of Des Plains’ Rivers Casino have shown interest in building a casino in Waukegan.

Churchill Downs Inc. and Rush Street Gaming revealed on August 22nd that they are to enter the competition for a Waukegan casino operating license as part of the massive gambling expansion which the Governor or Illinois officially signed into law earlier this summer.

The two gambling giants, who jointly own and operate Arlington International Racecourse and Des Plaines’ Rivers Casino, shared that, if given the green light, their proposed new entity is to be called Rivers Casino Waukegan. The project for the casino involves 1,625-gaming positions and is expected to create more than 900 construction jobs and over 1,200 jobs after construction works are finalized, according to the news release issued by the two companies to announce the plan. Apart from that, the Rivers Casino Waukegan would feature a poker room, which is not currently available in the group’s Des Plaines casino.

The companies have been considering the Fountain Square property, which is owned by the city and has been pointed as one of the most suitable spots to host a casino. As a matter of fact, a casino construction there was proposed by supporters of gambling expansion more than ten years ago, but Illinois legislators decided to grant the casino license to the city of Des Plaines, which hosted the Rivers Casino in 2011.

The two companies said they would be pleased to be taken into consideration as developers and operators for the new gambling destination not only for the city, but also for Lake County and Illinois as a whole.

Illinois Gaming Board to Make the Final Decision on Issuing the Casino License

According to preliminary estimates provided by Churchill Downs Inc. and Rush Street Gaming, their casino project could bring over $150 million to the local economy every year.

So far, six groups have entered the competition for a casino license in the city of Waukegan, as revealed by local officials who are expected to unveil a list of the frontrunners in the upcoming week. Then, the city is set to recommend one or more of these finalists to the state’s gambling regulatory body – the Illinois Gaming Board – by October 26th. It is the gambling regulator of Illinois which has the final decision on issuing a license.

The joint venture between Rush Street and Churchill Downs Inc. has been the fourth group to announce their interest in building and operating a new Waukegan-based gambling venue. The rest of the companies which have announced they are among the bidders for the project are Full House Resorts Inc., Potawatomi Hotel & Casino and North Point Casino.

The proposals for ownership of the new casino in Waukegan has been made possible with the long-expected gambling expansion of the state, which Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law in June 2019. Under the expansion, legislators granted Chicago, Rockford, Waukegan, as well as three other locations in the state with permission to establish new casinos.

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