As revealed by local officials earlier this week, a number of investors are willing to establish a casino and a horse race track in Richton Park, with Illinois lawmakers having suggested eliminating one of the most serious obstacles for the idea to become a reality.
Greenway Entertainment Group, a recently formed entity, has revealed that it is actively seeking to build a racino in south suburban Richton Park after getting the local officials’ approval. The company announced its plans at a hearing of an Illinois Senate executive committee that took place on March 23rd.
In order for such an endeavor to become a reality, the Senate would have to approve a bill seeking to eliminate Hawthorne Race Course’s right to impose a veto on any rival casino situated within 35 miles of its race track situated in the west suburban Stickney. The veto power was agreed upon as part of the latest gambling expansion law in 2019, under which a total of six new casino venues were allowed to be established across the state, including one mega-casino in Chicago. At the time, local lawmakers also gave the green light to legal sports betting services and approved so-called racinos – horse racing tracks featuring a casino.
The Illinois Gaming Board has been approached by the managing director of Greenway Entertainment Group, Drew Daniels, who stated that the group had a few wealthy investors who were interested in establishing a casino and a horse race track in Richton Park. According to Mr. Daniels, an 80-acre site in the area meets the general physical requirements for the racino project. He further shared that the group has proceeded with the $300-million-plus project’s initial design and engineering.
Richton Park Officials Support the Race Course/Casino Project
So far, Greenway Entertainment Group has held a number of meetings with Richton Park officials who have already shared their support for the project. The company’s managing director urged the Illinois gambling regulatory body and the Illinois General Assembly to take into consideration the loss of revenue and the multiple delays that have been permitted by the current Act and suggest an alternative that would allow the group to proceed with the project without further resistance.
Arlington International Racecourse’s former president and current CEO of Endeavor Hotel Group, Roy Arnold, is one of the prospective investors in the Richton Park racino project. Previously, he headed a group that aimed at purchasing Arlington International Racecourse to keep racing there before the sight was eventually taken over by the Chicago Bears. According to him, eliminating the Hawthorne veto power is an extremely important condition for the group to establish a harness race track in the south suburbs.
As mentioned above, the village of Richton Park has supported the establishment of a mixed-used racino. That was confirmed in a statement issued by the Village Manager Regan Stockstell who issued a statement in support of the project describing it as a “meaningful economic development opportunity” for the southern suburbs.
However, not everyone would welcome the establishment of a racino in the southern suburbs. Previously, mayors in the area have raised concerns that such a project would put at risk plans for an independent casino in the region.