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Illinois Gaming Board Should Award Casino License in September, South Suburban Officials Insist

Officials from the South suburbs have shared their concern that the Illinois Gaming Board will delay its decision whether to issue an operating license for the long-expected casino venue in Southland.

The final regularly-appointed meeting of the state’s gambling regulatory body is set to be held on September 17th. The Board has until October 28th to award a casino operating license. Still, local lawmakers revealed that the gambling watchdog has the chance to extend the deadline if necessary, although the date is specified in Illinois’ gambling expansion legislation from 2019. As explained by Representative Anthony DeLuca, it could be a significant delay.

A delay of the procedure would probably frustrate municipal and business leaders, who consider the establishment of a South suburban casino as a strong opportunity for the region to generate fresh tax revenue, create jobs and start economic growth.

So far, the southern suburbs were left behind when state lawmakers passed the Riverboat Gambling Act in 1990 but now, the region has finally been given a chance to expand its gambling options. The so-called sweepstake machines that could be hosted by a south suburban casino have attracted four rivals hoping to get the single license that is set to be awarded for the region. In fact, applicants that have proposed the establishment for casino venues in Lynwood, Calumet City, Matteson and East Hazel Crest/Homewood each paid a non-refundable application fee of $300,000 by October 28th, 2019.

Gambling Expansion Law Gives South Suburbs the Chance to Host Racino

Under the provisions of the existing law, the Illinois Gaming Board is given up to a year for evaluation of the applications, check the investors’ business and financial backgrounds and make a choice which one of the four abovementioned sites is the most appropriate to host the potentially lucrative gambling facility.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic hit almost all countries across the world, and at the time that happened, hardly anyone could have anticipated that the crisis would lead to the extensive social distancing and lockdown measures that disrupted the regular operation of the gambling industry. For some time, the stat of Ilinois suspended all operational capabilities of land-based casinos and establishments offering video gaming terminals (VGTs).

Under the piece of legislation that expanded the legal gambling sector of the state in 2019, new casino venues were allowed in Chicago, Rockford, Danville, Williamson County, Waukegan and the South suburbs. In addition, existing horse racing tracks were permitted to add some gaming positions, and a new racetrack/casino venue, also known as “racino”, was designated for the South suburbs.

A racino was considered to be situated on the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center property, but Illinois authorities stopped the deal after a local media outlet unveiled there had been a connection between a leading developer and a banking family known for its links with organized crime.

Now, the gaming board members are being urged to make a decision to award a license during the following board’s meeting scheduled for September 17th.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.