Representatives of the companies made their penultimate pitches during a virtual meeting Wednesday. Operators are set to submit a final proposal, partly based on questions board members asked during the presentations. A date for when a decision will be made hasn't been announced yet. The Potawatomi tribe is seeking inclusion in the process via a lawsuit, claiming its bid was unfairly rejected in 2019.
Finalists for a Waukegan casino license in Illinois are making their final pitches to the state’s Gaming Board in hopes of getting their proposal elected. Other four applicants also made presentations for the Cook County's south suburbs.
Representatives of Full House Resorts Inc. and North Point Casino, the two remaining contenders for Waukegan, made their penultimate pitches on Wednesday during a virtual meeting, reports Chicago Tribune. Following the presentations, Illinois Gaming Board President Charles Schmadeke said members will take the proposal under advisement.
Both finalists, which promised new jobs and attractive tax revenue to the state, will be submitting a final proposal. This will be partly based on questions members of the board asked during Wednesday’s presentations. A date for when a decision will be made hasn’t been announced by the board yet.
Both Bill Warner, CEO of Warner Gaming and a partner in North Point, and Alex Stolyar, Full House’s senior vice president and chief development officer, said they will likely tweak their bids. However, they were unwilling to share details due to the competitive nature of the process. Theirs are the only two proposals standing after Midwest Gaming withdrew its bid on September 30.
North Point’s presentation indicated the project will see the creation of 1,000 construction jobs and 1,180 permanent ones, while Full House estimated the employment of 2,000 individuals once open.
North Point’s plan contemplates an approximate $450 million investment in its project, an 81,500-square-foot casino. It would include an outdoor amphitheater, with seating for between 5,000 and 7,000 people, as well as a multipurpose venue fit to be used as a ballroom, convention center, and more. Amenities are conceived to complement what is already in Waukegan rather than compete with it, said Warner.
On the other hand, Dan Lee, president and CEO of Full House, said that his resort would have a mansion with 20 luxury suites to accommodate high rollers, as well as facilities for the average gambler. He also described the casino’s lobby, which would have a few fountains, and other eye-catching attractions.
If built, the casino will occupy approximately 28 acres of city-owned land adjacent to the Fountain Square Shopping Center, reports Chicago Tribune based on material shown at the meeting.
Both Full House and North Point have plans to open a temporary facility during construction within six months. Moreover, both potential operators said there will be an ample number of slot machines, table games and a sportsbook at their proposed casinos.
Illinois Gaming Board’s administrator Marcus Fruchter brought attention during the meeting to the fact that since Waukegan recommended both operators two years ago, the city had a change in administration. Current Mayor Ann Taylor took office in May, and as an alderman on the Waukegan City Council when the vote was taken, she voted against all three applicants.
Neither Lee nor the North Point group have had contact with Taylor, who said in a statement she is awaiting the board’s decision before taking any action to “actively engage” with the winning party.
Even though the pitching process seems to be moving smoothly, there still remains uncertainty on legal action taken by Waukegan Potawatomi Casino LLC against the city in 2019. The operator sued Waukegan after its proposal was not endorsed for the casino competition. The tribe is seeking inclusion in the process, with legal proceedings still ongoing.
The lawsuit contends Waukegan officials used incorrect information compiled by its casino consultant to reject the bid. On the other hand, city lawyers say the suit is invalid and that the consultant based his data on what was available during the early vetting process. Should the tribe be successful in court, it could set back the entire process.
South Chicago suburbs
The Ho-Chunk Nation, which has six casinos in Wisconsin, is one of four contenders for a new casino that has been approved for the south Chicago suburbs, The Daily Southtown reports.
The Illinois Gaming Board postponed a decision Wednesday on narrowing the field of four applicants to three after spending hours hearing presentations from the contenders. Marcus Fruchter, the gaming board's administrator, said that decision could come up for a vote at the board's Oct. 20 meeting. He said the gaming board remains on pace to grant the license to one of the four applicants by early January.
The four proposals are for casinos in Calumet City, Lynwood, Matteson and one on the border of Homewood and East Hazel Crest.