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August 06, 2020

In Lynwood

Wisconsin tribe unveils casino plans in Illinois 

Wisconsin tribe unveils casino plans in Illinois 
Ho-Chunk representatives outlined plans for the project at a village meeting with Lynwood Mayor Gene Williams on Tuesday.
United States | 10/11/2019

The Ho-Chunk Nation has entered the competition for a gambling license in the south suburbs, where it plans to build a $300 million casino and hotel development.

T

he proposal calls for the facility to be built on land Ho-Chunk Nation, which operates casinos in Wisconsin, owns just east of Illinois 394 and north of the highway’s interchange with Glenwood-Dyer Road, in in Lynwood.

An existing sports complex, Southland Center, would be retrofitted to house a temporary casino should Ho-Chunk win approval from state gaming regulators, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Lynwood Mayor Gene Williams said Wednesday that the development could ultimately include amenities such as a movie theater and water park. He said Ho-Chunk representatives outlined plans for the project at a village meeting Tuesday.

The development would benefit “not just Lynwood but the entire region,” he said.

The Village Board will vote next week on a resolution endorsing the Nation’s proposal, which would be submitted to the Illinois Gaming Board before the deadline for casino license applications at the end of this month.

Ho-Chunk Nation’s gaming subsidiary operates six casinos in Wisconsin, including in the Wisconsin Dells.

The Ho-Chunk had been in discussions with Lynwood officials about the development prior to Tuesday’s presentation, Williams said. He said that ensuring the development, beyond the casino, “caters to families” will be key in its long-term success.

The new gambling expansion law in Illinois creates a new casino license for a south suburban location as well as a combination harness racing track and casino, which is being proposed in Tinley Park.

A subsidiary of an Alabama-based Native American tribe says it will file an application for the license and is proposing a site at Interstate 80 and Halsted Street on property that is in both East Hazel Crest and Homewood.

The Ho-Chunk’s Southland Center on Stony Island Avenue east of Illinois 394/Calumet Expressway has more than 100,000 square feet of space and hosts sports tournaments, banquets and other activities. There are also outdoor baseball and softball fields. In total, the Ho-Chunk own more than 120 acres.

The Ho-Chunk proposal calls for a temporary casino to be built directly south of Southland Center. The state allows new casino license holders to operate from temporary facilities for up to two years while permanent buildings are constructed.

Adjacent to the permanent casino, part of the Ho-Chunk’s second and third phases of development, would be a 300-room hotel and five-level parking garage, according to plans.

Once the permanent casino is finished, the temporary building would be used for additional indoor sports activities such as racquetball, pickleball and a golf simulator, according to the plans.

A future phase of development proposes brand-name boutique outlet stores, according to the plans.

The Ho-Chunk estimate the permanent casino would create 1,100 jobs and would also feature bars and restaurants, retail space as well as a daycare center for casino employees.

In the early 2000s, the Ho-Chunk had proposed a massive casino development on the Lynwood property, with plans for a 220,000-square-foot casino as well as a convention center, movie theater and recreational vehicle campground. At the time, the Ho-Chunk were pursuing federal designation of the site as tribal land.

Under the state law, the host community would receive 2% of the casino’s adjusted gross revenues, or revenues minus winnings paid to bettors. Another 3% would be shared with 42 other south suburbs.

The south suburban casino license is earmarked for a location in one of six townships: Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth.

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