Hiring and construction underway

Illinois: Full House targets fall for temporary Waukegan casino opening; "little impact" expected from Bally's Chicago

Rendering for the permanent American Place casino in Waukegan.
Reading time 2:32 min

Foundation is being poured for the American Place temporary casino in Waukegan, Illinois, ahead of a slated opening this fall, according to Chicago Tribune. A construction crew is currently working on the 70,000-square-foot transitory venue, to be located near the Fountain Square shopping center.

Plans are to finish the construction by June 6, once the Sprung structure -a tensioned membrane building described as a high-tension tent- arrives, allowing for a fall opening. Erecting the structure is set to take about seven weeks. Workers will then build the interior, which will include restaurants and room for 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games.

Prior reports indicated that casino operator and developer Full House Resorts, along with general contractor Turner Construction, were seeking minority and women-owned vendors for the project. A vendor outreach event was held to that end in March. The company is also putting a strong focus on hiring local people for the construction process.

“The tables and gaming equipment will come at the very end,” Alex Stolyer, senior vice president and chief development officer for Full House, told the cited source. “We need our [Illinois gaming] license first.”

The hiring process for the venue has started, and senior-level staff is hired. Once an opening date is scheduled, positions like dealers and slot machine technicians will begin to be filled. Approximately 260 dealers will work at the venue, which will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. About half of the dealers will be experienced, and the rest new to the industry.

Stolyer updated Chicago Tribune on the development and said that along with working with the city of Waukegan on the needed permits, obtaining the license from the Illinois Gaming Board is an ongoing process as well.

The permanent American Place casino is expected to cost about $400 million. The first phase of the permanent resort will feature a 100,000-square-foot casino, a boutique luxury suite hotel called the Mansion House, four to five restaurants, and an entertainment facility. It is a project about three years away. A second phase -which could be five or more years away- would add a 150-room, four-star hotel.

While Full House officials are keeping an eye on the progress of a $1.74 billion resort casino in Chicago’s River West neighborhood, to be developed by Bally’s and approved by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday, Stolyer told Tribune he expects it will have “little impact” on their own plans.

Rendering for Bally's Chicago

Instead, the executive expects American Place’s competition to come from the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee. But he also believes the five-star luxury suites hotel coming with the permanent resort will give the Waukegan casino an edge, allowing it to cater to high-rollers seeking a full experience.

Earlier this month, details surfaced on the upcoming Circa Sportsbook at the Waukegan casino. Full House has partnered with the Las Vegas-based sportsbook operator on a state-of-the-art sports betting venue at the upcoming casino, which will not only add an exciting amenity for Full House guests but allow Circa to expand its footprint to a fourth state.

The initial arrival of Circa Sports in Illinois will be in the temporary American Place facility through a dedicated wagering area with betting kiosks, physical ticket windows, and digital boards with real-time odds, plus 36 televisions featuring sports action.

Once finalized, the permanent American Place casino will feature “a best-in-class retail sportsbook to match the quality and scale” of the development, described as “a first-class sportsbook experience.” Additionally, the partnership will allow Circa to launch its mobile app in the state.

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