Illinois Gaming Board Chooses Full House Resorts to Establish Waukegan Casino Project

In the middle of the week, state regulators announced their choice for the company that would be allowed to start the construction of the new casino in Waukegan and one other casino in close proximity to the border of East Hazel Crest and Homewood’s south suburban area. The move put an end to a casino developer selection process that continued for over 2 years because of the coronavirus pandemic and other delays.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) chose Full House Resorts Inc. to establish its high-roller gambling venue at the location of Waukegan’s closed Fountain Square shopping center. The rejected rival in the competition could still pose a legal challenge to the selection of the company.

Under the new state gambling law that was signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in 2019, new casino venues were allowed in the state. This fuelled a fierce competition for the facility that is expected to provide a fresh revenue source for the communities in the south suburbs that have been facing financial difficulties for years now.

The Homewood/East Hazel Crest casino project was chosen to establish the venue in close proximity to 175th and Halted streets on Interstate 80.

Illinois Gaming Board Provides Waukegan and Homewood/East Hazel Crest Bidders with Preliminary Approval

On December 8th, regulators voted unanimously with 4 to 0 votes to provide the Waukegan and Homewood/East Hazel Crest bidders with preliminary approval that would give them the chance to start preparing the groundwork for the proposed casino venues.

The Homewood/East Haze Crest casino project is led by Wind Creek Hospitality, which is owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians – a Native American tribe that already owns 10 gambling operations in the states of Pennsylvania, Nevada, Florida and Alabama, as well as in the Caribbean island of Curacao. Wind Creek Hospitality’s project is expected to be worth $440 million and involves the establishment of a casino situated on 64,000 square feet along with an entertainment center and a large hotel.

The Waukegan casino project, called “American Place” has been unveiled by Full House Resorts. It involves the establishment of a luxury gambling resort that would target mostly high-roller customers.

The Illinois Gaming Board had been expected to issue a decision on the Waukegan casino license in November but its decision was delayed because of an ongoing federal lawsuit that was started by a rejected bidder.

Waukegan Casino Selection Process Delayed by Federal Legal Action

As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, a motion of temporary restraining order had been started by the Potawatomi Tribe as part of its efforts to prevent the Illinois gambling regulator to move on with the selection procedures until the legal action was resolved. The request was officially rejected by Cook County Judge Cecilia Horan, who said that the Potawatomi did not have any legal right to block the selection regulatory procedure.

The selection of the chosen candidates came almost 3 years after Pritzker signed the new gambling legislation that made sports betting legal in Illinois, allowed table games and slots to be offered at local racetracks, established 6 new casino licenses. The number of gambling terminals situated at truck stops, gas stations, bars and other lounges was also increased.

So far, of the 6 newly-allowed casinos, the Hard Rock in Rockford has started taking bets. The construction process of the new casino situated in Williamson County was set to start on December 8th, and the revised casino offer of Danville is currently under regulatory review following an initial proposal that failed.

One of the most important parts of the gambling expansion in Illinois – the mega-casino in Chicago – is still in the early phase of its selection process. Public presentations have been scheduled for December 16th by Mayor Lori Lightfoot for the five proposals for the Chicago casino license.