As of the middle of October, three out of the four casino proposals for Waukegan have been evaluated and selected to move on in the process; these proposals will now face an evaluation by the Illinois Board of Gaming, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The bids from Rivers Casino, Full House Resort and North Point, which is owned by Lakeside Casino LLC, are the ones proceeding. Waukegan’s evaluation process was led by Johnson Consultants Inc. of Chicago, a company that provides city governments and administrations financial and real-estate analysis, as well as advice for business partnerships.
The one proposal not moving on was put forth by Potawatomi Hotel and Casino. According to the Chicago Tribune, Potwatomi was ranked last even though they were potentially the most financially beneficial, with construction estimated at $343 million, and its casino would have created 2,600 jobs for the local community and driven $394 million in the economy annually.
In their letter for reconsideration, they wrote, “Johnson could not explain how Potawatomi was rated first or second in every financial category and yet he ranked Potawatomi last.” But, as of Oct. 21, the Waukegan City Council voted down the reconsideration, 6-3. Potawatomi then requested a second hearing, but the outcome ended similarly, in a 7-2 vote reported by the Chicago Tribune.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, five different developers originally created proposals for Waukegan officials to vote on. The final developer that gets chosen will receive a bonus of $15 million and will assist in the construction of the casino. The opening date of the casino is still undetermined.
There is, however, opposition to the casino. Lisa May, a representative from Waukegan Forward, a group wanting to better Waukegan for the future, claims that there is still time for the community to speak out against the casino proposals to the City Council. She and her colleagues claim many gambling addictions will fall on families.
Mr. Brian Voss, an economics teacher, explained how building casinos and allowing the use of recreational marijuana are a last-ditch effort by the state to raise money in an effort to help its struggling financial situation. He described how it’s up to each city to raise money, and it was Waukegan’s choice to raise money through a flashy casino, hence “Waukegan will see more of the negative effects that come with casinos of more traffic, more arrests, more laws being broken because, with a casino, that tends to happen.”
On the contrary, he also stated that income will flow into Waukegan due to “people with lower incomes [and] minorities, who go to casinos more often. So who is benefiting from the casino and at what cost is the state really benefiting?”
As for Libertyville, which is located less than 10 miles from the casino’s eventual location, Mr. Voss predicted the casino will not impact the village as much. He stated that the only major effect would be that “Libertyville, the city itself, has a very vibrant downtown area, so [the casino] would be an attraction where people can go downtown, go to restaurants [in Libertyville] and then head over to the casino before or afterwards.”
As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, Each of the remaining casino proposals has different features that the developers want to implement. Churchill Downs-Rush Street Gaming currently owns Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and hopes to expand their brand in Waukegan. They have a 50-page proposal that includes luxury restaurants and poker rooms. Churchill Downs-Rush Street Gaming claims they will create 1,200 permanent jobs and $150 million for the local economy each year.
Full House Resorts is a casino chain that was originally based in Las Vegas. They have a 402-page proposal that includes a helicopter pad and luxurious restaurants. Their building is estimated to cost $300 million and will place $13 million in the economy yearly.
Lakeside Casino LLC is owned by former state senator Michael Bond. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, their proposal is extremely vague. They claim they will have an outdoor amphitheater, high-end restaurants and a hotel.