Calumet City Seeks to Bring New Life to River Oaks Center Through New Casino Project

The increased entry of sweepstake machines in the south suburban casinos provoked more efforts to establish a new gaming venue at the River Oaks shopping center in Calumet City. This is less than two miles from the Indiana state border.

A few days ago, the Calumet City Council gave its approval for the concept for the Southland Live casino and entertainment venue, which has been provided by Delaware North, an international hospitality group. Under the proposed plan, a gambling and entertainment facility is set to be established at 150,000 square feet on a 20-acre piece of land in close proximity to Macy’s at the River Oaks Center’s southwest corner. The construction project is worth $275 million.

Under the recently unveiled plans, the facility would host a casino featuring 35 table games and 1,200 slot machines, which basically means that it would be smaller in comparison to all five casinos in Northwest Indiana. The project also includes a music venue, some restaurants and lounges. In addition, according to the presented plans, a 200-room, 18-story hotel is set to be built three years after the official opening of the Calumet City casino.

The project manager of Southland Live Casino, Timothy Hughes, has emphasized on the fact that the former River Oaks Centre has been known as what he described as an “economic anchor” of the region for more than 50 years but he also said that the casino destination should bring back its former glory.

Casino Operating License Will Be Granted under Provisions of Senate Bill 690

According to Mr. Hughes, the construction of the Southland Live Casino would see a casino venue established in the south suburbs to bring some fresh funds for the local community.

Southland Live has not been the first casino proposal for the region. So far, there have been four casino proposals made, with the municipal leaders in different suburbs providing their approval ahead of the October 28th deadline for casino plans’ submission to the Illinois Gaming Board. To date, officials in Matteson, Lynwood and Homewood/East Hazel Crest have recommended similar-sized casinos. Tinley Park officials have been presented with a separate plan, aimed at constructing a horse racing track featuring slot machines.

After the deadline for submission of such plans is expired, the Illinois gambling regulatory authority would be given a year to determine which proposal is the best one and which of the casino projects would bring its owner an operating license. One horse racing license is also set to be granted by the Illinois Gaming Board under the provisions of Senate Bill 690.

According to Delaware North, which currently operates the Rock Island-based Jumer’s Casino believes that the place for Southland Live Casino is unique and would help the venue attract gamblers from both the states of Indiana and Illinois. Such a casino development would have a positive impact on the redevelopment of the River Oaks area. The regional general manager of Delaware North, Osi Imomoh, said that the group is willing to submit its proposal as soon as possible and to work in collaboration with the Illinois Gaming Board to bring another successful casino venue to the state of Illinois.

Over a decade ago, in 2008, Calumet City almost lost its casino license bid, which ended up with the establishment of Des Plaines-based Rivers Casino, which currently is the casino with the largest gross profit in the region.

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