Bo Knows? Bo Jackson Joins Investment Group for Calumet Casino


Former two-sport legend Bo Jackson has joined an investment group that is eyeing to acquire the license to open a casino in the south suburbs of Chicago.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times last Thursday, Jackson revealed that he has joined th Southland Live Casino as an equity partner. The company is vying to get the license to operate the proposed casino in Calumet City.

According to Jackson, he was attracted to the business because of they committed to partnering with the South Suburban College on a hotel and management program.. Said Jackson:

“I want to help employ people. I want to get the kids out of the corner, go to college and get a good job. What we want to do is bring Chicago’s South Side and suburbs back to life, make it a place that people want to go to rather than avoid it. Some people may see this as a gaming casino. I see it as an opportunity for many people, many disadvantaged children.”

Jackson did not mention however, how much he invested or what his percentage of ownership is in the gambling company.

Fighting for a Single Casino License in Southern Suburbs

Southland Live Casino faces offers from Lynwood, Matteson, and a location that straddles Homewood and East Hazel Cest. The four are vying for a single casino license for the southern suburbs are under the gambling expansion of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s enacted 2019 $45B “Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan”.

The four aspirants will be whittled down to three after all the group finish making their public presentation during a special meeting next week. The Illinois Gaming Board has announced that it expects to announce the winning bid in early 2020.

Bo knows

Jackson was one of the early faces of Nike when he was a two-sport superstar and was known for his slogan “Bo Knows”. A former Heisman Trophy winner, Los Angeles Raiders running back, and Chicago White Sox slugger, Bo Jackson was on of the most popular athletes during the 90s and made a huge fortune not just from playing pro sports but by also capitalizing on his two-sport image.

After ending his high-profile professional sports career in 1994, he made the southwestern Chicago suburbs his home. Since then, he’s invested his spoils in sports training complexes in multiple states, packaging companies, food and marketing, and even CBD. However, this stands as Jackson’s first venture into the gamlbing world.

Midwest Gaming Withdraws Bid for Waukegan Casino License

Row of Slot Machines in Casino

The Waukegan Casino race is down to two applicants after Midwest Gaming withdrew its application.

This was revealed by Illinois Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Frutcher on Thursday shortly before a random draw to determine the order of public presentations by the two remaining groups vying for the Waukegan license.

Las Vegas developer Full House Resorts and Lakeside Casino LLC, a group led by former Grayslake state Sen. Michael Bond are set to make their final presentations before the Board on October 3rd.

Sale of Arlington International Racecourse

Midwest Gaming’s withdrawal did not come without controversy. Hours earlier, Churchill Downs Inc. announced that it would sell Arlington International Racecourse to the Chicago Bears for $197.2M. Midwest Gaming is a joint venture of Churchill Downs and Rush Street Interactive.

But despite speculation, Rush Street spokesman Dennis Culloton said that it was a mere coincidence that they withdrew their application on the same day that the sale of Arlington was announced. Rush Street does not have an interest in the 326-acre parcel that could be the Bears’ destination but the company has a sponsorship deal with the team.

Going for the Chicago Mega-Casino?

The sudden turn of events led to speculation that the Rush Street consortium could be going all-in on a proposal for the recently approved Chicago mega-casino. Churchill Downs has been non-committal about a plan to apply for the Chicago casino which has gotten a lukewarm response from other national gaming developers due to high taxes.

It is also not clear in Churchill Downs or Rush Street Interactive or both as a partnership have applied for the 4,000 position Chicago casino but if they did, they would be considered instant favorites to get the license. RSI’s billionaire owner Neil Bluhm has close ties to Chicago Mayor Loi Lightfoot who earlier moved the deadline for submission of applications to October 29th.

Fairmount Park Gets Approval For Illinois Sports Betting License

Odds Board and Money
Fairmount Park’s applications for an Illinois sports betting license was approved 4-0 by the Illinois Gaming Board during a special meeting held on Thursday morning. During the meeting, Fairmount Park was also given “preliminary suitable” status to accept casino games.

With its approval, Fairmount Park becomes the 9th applicant granted a Master Sports Wagering License by the Illinois Gaming Board since June. The approved license is valid for four years. Fairmount Park’s sports betting provider will be FanDuel and it applied for the license as FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing.

First Sportsbook at Multiple Retail Venues

FanDuel has been live in Lincoln State since since August 28th when it launched its sports betting app through a partnership with Boyd Gaming’s Par-A-Dice-Casino in East Peoria. That consortium started accepting legal Illinois sports betting transactions last September 10th.

But while FanDuel is the first Illinois sports betting company to operate in multiple venues, it won’t be the last. PointsBet, who has a partnership with Hawthorne Race Course, is planning to open three Chicago suburban off-track betting sites in the near future while DraftKings, a partner of Casino Queen, is expected to open a sportsbook at Wrigley Field in partnership with the Chicago Cubs.

Gaming Expansion Bill

Horse racing tracks were allowed to apply for casino and sports betting licenses as part of the gaming expansion bill signed into a law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June 2019. FanDuel had been in talks with Fairmount as early as February as a workaround to the 18-month waiting period from the issuance of the first sports betting license to when the Illinois Gaming Board can accept an online-only application.

With its approval, Fairmount Park thus joins Hawthorne Race Course as the only race tracks in the state permitted to conduct sports betting activities and given “preliminary suitable” status to add casino games. Arlington International Racecourse, the third race track in the state, did not apply for an Illinois sports betting or a racino license.

If its Racino application is approved, Fairmount Park stands to offer up to 900 gaming positions at slot machines and table games. The total cost of the expansion has been estimated at $50M. There is no timetable yet for the expansion as it is dependent on how fast the approval process goes.

Wilmorite To Build Casino In Danville

Wilmorite Management Group secured an approval from the Danville City Council last Tuesday night to build and operate a casino the Central Illinois town near the Indiana state line.

The approval came after a presentation made by Danville Development LLC, an Illinois registered company owned by the Wilmot family which owns and operates the Wilmorite Management Group in Rochester, New York.

Location Has Been Selected

During the presentation, Wilmorite vice president of gaming Jimmy Wilmot said that they have chosen 204 Eastgate Drive as the location for their casino. The area is the former Morris Flamingo site. The building is owned by Shaheen and Co. and it was once targeted for a cannabis cultivation center.

The site is on the north side of Interstate 74 and west side of Lynch Road. Wilmorite has committed to spend $600,000 to help the city address the sewer capacity issues that are on the north side of the interstate along that corridor.

The former Morris Flamingo site was a distribution site and warehouse. It has a total area of 110,643 square feet on 11.5 acres. The proposal is for Wimorite to build a new connection between Eastgate Drive and Lynch Road at the front of the parcel.

Phase 1 Expected To Start in Fall of 2021

The proposed casino would have a gaming floor of around 17,000 square feet. The plan also included the construction of a steak house, food court and a parking space with a capacity of over 500 vehicles. The group is also eyeing a 15,000 square foot Phase 2 expansion and a Phase 3 renovation that will include a 100-room hotel, additional restaurants, and a conference center.

The first phase of construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2021 and would be completed before the end of the year. The initial phase includes 500 slot machines and a total of 10 gaming tables including one for craps. Overall, the entire project is estimated to be completed in six years.

According to Wilmorite, they will spend around $30M when they break ground and $100M by the time they open their casino doors for the first time. Upon the approval of its license by the Illionis Gaming Board, Wilmorite will give $3M to the city who will use the amount for its riverside development project, the Boys and Girls Club, and other projects within the city.