2019 has been a wild ride for the state of Illinois. After the change in gaming legislation, there was a proverbial explosion of interest for new venues and gambling as a whole. Wind Creek Hospitality, the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin and several other operators have expressed their desires to get a piece of the freshly baked pie in the Prairie State. On Monday, it was announced that Full House Resorts Inc. decided to join in on the fun, making them the sixth contender for the Waukegan license.
This reputable operator almost missed the deadline for submission to the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), but they’ve finally put their name in the hat, in hopes of winning the highly sought-after casino license in this Lake County community. Their proposed venue, the American Place casino, is projected to merge with an existing shopping district.
In the Nick of Time
Just when we thought things couldn’t get more interesting, Full House Resorts Inc. joined the fold in spectacular fashion. In an official press release, this Las Vegas-based company confirmed that they were seeking permission to erect a state-of-the-art casino, with additional structures surrounding the facility. This is a trend that has become prevalent in the gaming industry, as operators want to create a whole district to impress local officials.
The first phase of this ambitious project includes the building of a casino “according to the highest standards in the industry today”, followed by the addition of a sportsbook. Additionally, Full House delivered plans for a boutique hotel comprised of 20 villas. For non-gaming visitors, there will be a 1,500-seat venue designed for concerts, formal events and much more. To round the plan out, they’ve also expressed a desire to add several restaurants and bars.
Apparently, the ultimate goal is to create a district dedicated solely to entertainment. So far, it seems like a feasible plan, as the American Place casino could be built right next to the Fountain Square Shopping district, which is considered to be the main attraction in Waukegan.
An Unusual Incentive
If we’ve learned anything from the gaming renaissance in Illinois, it’s that operators are ready to use every move in the book to impress lawmakers. Several contenders for a state casino license have promised additional percentages to communities, all in order to gain an edge over the competition. Full House went in the same direction but did something completely different.
Apparently, they’ve stated that they will open a temporary casino in Lake County if they get the permit they’re after. The aim of this move is to allow communities to benefit from the new project as early as possible. It’s a rather unorthodox bargaining chip, but it just might turn out to be a success if Full House takes home the crown.
Experience is Key
In Full House Resorts Inc., Waukegan is getting a reliable partner with a significant amount of experience as an operator. They currently run give casinos, with the most significant being the Silver Slipper Casino Hotel in Mississippi and the Grand Lodge Casino in Nevada. According to Daniel Lee, the CEO of Full House, their plan was one of only three to get a green light from the city officials.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Churchill Downs Inc. and Rush Street Gaming are seen as the company’s biggest competitors for the casino license. The Forest County Potawatomi Community also became a contender recently. Industry experts are unable to pinpoint a surefire winner, but most of them agree that Full House is indeed a slight favorite. Once November begins, the IGB will start reviewing all the applications and come up with an answer in six or more months.