Waukegan City Council Forwards 3 of 4 Casino Projects to Illinois Gambling Regulator, Dismissing Potawatomi’s Proposal

Yesterday, the Waukegan City Council voted to send on three of the four competitors for the casino project for the Fountain Square site to the state’s gambling regulator, leaving the project presented by Potawatomi Casino Waukegan behind.

The aldermen from the City Council voted 6 to 3 to send the proposals of North Point Casino and Full House Resort to the Illinois Gaming Board for further consideration. The bid which the Rivers Casino Waukegan is also to proceed with to the state’s gambling regulatory body with 5 to 4 votes. However, the Potawatomi bid was ranked fourth, and last, in a report provided by Johnson Consultants Inc. and gathered only two votes “in favor” from the nine-member council.

Sam Cunningham, Mayor of Waukegan, has explained at the meeting that the city had not found any specific problems with Potawatomi and its casino bid but, according to him, the fact that its proposal was ranked last by the consultancy firm which reviewed the potential developers played a role into the aldermen vote. At the time when the report was officially released, both Rivers and Potawatomi shared that they had submitted additional information of significant importance to the casino project, but that information was never included in the report and the candidates’ ranking.

One of the consultants who had been making the evaluation, Charles Johnson, confirmed that such supplementary materials had been provided but added that he was unable to take these materials into consideration because his firm did not believe using additional information was valid. According to Johnson Consultants, such materials would allow separate candidates to adjust their offers after seeing what their rivals had proposed. He, however, called for the Illinois Gaming Board to take the supplemental information into account when making its decision.

Potawatomi Casino Bid Left Behind with Only Two Votes In Favor

As mentioned above, the first and the second in the consultancy firm’s report, Full House and North Point, each was supported by six votes from the council. Rivers is to go forward after receiving five “yes” votes.

Some aldermen have revealed that they were not happy with the procedure which was used for making a decision on the finalists. As one of the council members, Lynn Florian, revealed, the information included in the Johnson Consultants’ report showed that both Rivers and Potawatomi did well in terms of important issues such as jobs and revenue. That, however, did not seem to be reflected properly in the final rankings of the four candidates.

As a response to these claims, the consultancy firm explained that the final rankings of the companies were based on “simple mathematics”. Apart from that, Mr. Johnson said that he was looking at projects that were suitable for the area based on both the needs of the city and the current market.

Jeff Crawford, the attorney of the Potawatomi tribe, shared they were disappointed with the decision of the Waukegan City Council. He highlighted the fact that the casino bid, which the tribe had made, included the highest number of new jobs that were to be created as part of the project (2,600) and also projected the largest potential economic impact for the city of Waukegan. Mr. Crawford believes that Potawatomi was dismissed from the competition because it had made the lowest offer for the shuttered Fountain Square shopping center, where the casino is set to be built. Potawatomi’s offer amounted to $5.6 million, while the first in the consultant’s report – Full House – offered the most for the land, $30 million.