Illinois Casino Expansion’s Could Be Put on Stake by Fully-Operational Casino Sector in Northwest Indiana

According to analysts, the Hard Rock Casino Gary may be the first one of several casino venues that are set to start operation in Northwest Indiana or really close nearby in the upcoming years.

Thanks to the piece of gambling legislation enacted in June, the Illinois gaming regulator opened the door to long-desired casino expansion in the state, including the establishment of a Chicago casino featuring 4,000 gaming positions. Under the measure, a racino that includes a horse racing track and slot machines is set to be built in the south suburbs, and a casino featuring 2,000 gaming positions is to be established at a yet-to-be-determined site in Cook County.

So far in October, Lynwood and Homewood’s officials have separately started gathering casino developers’ proposals for gaming resorts, including hotels, entertainment venues, bars and dining areas along with the gambling facilities. Reportedly, Crestwood, Calumet City, Matteson and Country Club Hills officials are also looking for casino developers that would be willing to establish large casino venues in their municipalities.

Under Illinois’ casino expansion provisions, the developers who would like to be granted the single casino owner’s license for the south suburban area must submit their applications to the Illinois Gaming Board by October 28th. The application must also be complemented with a $250,000 fee. Then, the state’s gambling regulatory body would be given a year to determine which casino project’s owner would be granted permission to construct and operate a gambling venue under the State Bull 690.

Several Casino Proposals Unveiled under New Gambling Legislation of Illinois

The casino proposal for Homewood has been submitted in collaboration with East Hazel Crest. The owners of the casino resort project are looking to establish a gambling venue worth $275 million, along with a 251-room hotel at the intersection of 175th and Halsted Streets. Under the proposal, the casino would be operated by a company controlled by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The gambling venue would feature more than 1,350 gaming positions.

The Lynwood casino proposal would probably be bigger than the one for Homewood. The casino resort project involves a facility estimated at $380 million, including a 20-story hotel. The location for the facility is set in close proximity to Illinois 394 and Glenwood-Dyer Road. Another Native American tribal nation, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, is set to operate the commercial casino. More than a decade ago, the tribe sought the federal authorities to classify the Lynwood site as tribal land so that it would be able to operate a casino without paying taxes to the state of Illinois, but that attempt was not successful.

Apart from that, the Illinois Racingboard has given its approval to Playing in the Park to conduct harness racing at a new Tinley Park-situated horse racing track every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday starting December 2020. The company which would run the project further revealed that it is willing to host up to 1,200 slot machines at the track, as permitted by law. This project, however, still needs to receive the permission of the Illinois Gaming Board.

Northwest Indiana’s Casino Sector is Fully Operational and Could Hurt Projected Illinois’ Casino Revenue

For the time being, it remains unclear how a casino or a racino situated in the south suburbs would affect Northwest Indiana’s casino admissions and revenue.

According to a recent study, the performance of the planned Chicago casino would be seriously affected by the extra taxes which are set to be imposed on its revenue, making it almost impossible for the gambling facility to generate profit. These findings have been the reason why Illinois lawmakers are set to take into consideration a possible revision of Senate Bill 690 in November 2019.

Some analysts, however, believe that any changes brought to the provisions controlling the Chicago casino could have a negative impact on the profitability of a south suburban casino/racino. Even worse, it may cause the coalition which helped the gambling expansion law to break apart.

Illinois’ gambling expansion through new casino venues has been described as “curious” by the General Manager of Hammond Horseshoe, Dan Nita, especially considering the fact there are already 10 casinos in the state, and Northwest Indiana has a fully-operational casino sector which has already been serving a large number of Illinois residents. In addition, most of the casino facilities which are currently operating in Northwest Indiana are owned by some of the largest gambling companies on a global scale, such as Penn National Gaming, Caesars Entertainment and Boyd Gaming.