Illinois Gaming Board Announces Winning Bidders in Waukegan and Homewood-East Hazel Crrest

Table Game Pit in a Casino on Left Slot Machine Floor on Right
Illinois State regulators announced last Wednesday their chosen developer to break ground on a new casino in Waukegan and another at the border of south suburban Homewood and East Hazel Crest.

The Illinois Gambling Board picked Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts Inc. to build and operate a casino at the Fountain Square Center Shopping Center in Waukegan. Meanwhile, Homewood/East Hazel Crest beat Matterson with its proposal to build a gambling place off Interstate 80 near 175th and Halsted Streets.

Waukegan Announcement Delayed Out of Respect

The Gaming Board planned to announce the winner of the Waukegian bid last month but out of respect for the judicial lawsuit filed by foiled bidder Forest County Potawatomi Community in 2019. The tribe claimed that the selection process was rigged after its proposal was eliminated despite scoring well in the evaluations.

WInning bidder Full House Resorts Inc. is a publicly traded company. It envisions its $400M Waukegian casino to be a high-end gambling center which caters to high rollers It plans to build “ultra-luxurious villas” and a villa helicopter landing pad. According to officials, they will open a temporary casino site in the coming months.

Alabama-based Wind Creek Hospitality

Meanwhile, a $440M casino with 64,000 square feet of gaming area plus 21-storey hotel and entertainment center will be erected by winning Homewood-East Hazel Crest bidder. That group is led by the Alabama-based Wind Creek Hospitality, part of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians who run 10 gambling properties in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Curacao in the Caribbean.

In a statement, Wind Creek Hospitality CEO Jay Dorris said in an email that they intend to open their casino in 2023. Dorris added that they look forward to expanding their network of relationships in the Southland and to ensure that the benefits related to this project will be felt all over the region.

Six New Casino Licenses Created

Two and a half years ago, Gov J.B. Pritzker signed a law that would create six new casino licenses, introduced legal sports betting, added slots and table games at racetracks, and expanded the number of allowed gambling terminals at gas stations, truck stops, bars, and other similar lounges. However, of the six approved casino licenses, only the Hard Rock in Rockford has started taking bets.

The casino in Williamson County just broke ground earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Danville is still reviewing the revised casino bids after the first proposals fell off the table. On the other hand, the Chicago mega-casino is still in the early process of the local selection process with a scheduled December 16 public presentation of its five proposals received.