After the mayor of Waukegan said back in May that the city has a ‘shovel-ready’ site for a new casino, on Monday, August 5 leaders of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee announced that it submitted an application to develop a commercial casino in Illinois city that is situated approximately halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee.
In July, the city that is located 35 miles north of Downtown Chicago and 10 miles south of the Wisconsin state border issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking potential casino developers. Responses were to be submitted to the city by Monday.
According to WITI Fox6Now, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Rodney Ferguson, stated in the Monday release…
“The city of Waukegan is in search of a qualified developer to bring a first-class entertainment experience with their new casino. Having successfully operated in this gaming market for several decades, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is a natural fit to develop this project and create the entertainment destination that Waukegan is seeking.”
The city of Waukegan issued the RFP following Illinois Governor J.B.Pritzker’s June 28 signing into law a package of bills that will finance a $45-billion “Rebuild Illinois” plan, that among other things will expand casino gaming in the state. The new law grows the number of available casino licenses for the midwestern state, adding them [licenses] for Chicago, Waukegan, Rockford, the South Suburbs, Williamson County (Walker’s Bluff), and Danville.
The news agency reports that according to the press release, Potawatomi leaders said that they are ready to have a presence in Waukegan similar to the one they have had in Milwaukee for three decades, both cities being in the heart of Potawatomi treaty lands.
Vision for Waukegan:
Ferguson said in the release…
“For nearly 30 years, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee has been offering visitors from across the country a first-class entertainment experience. Our property attracts more than six million visitors annually, making it one of the largest entertainment destinations in the Midwest. With a history of expansion and continual reinvestment, we don’t take our success for granted. We are excited about the opportunity to bring that same level of success to Waukegan.”
Development specifics forthcoming:
According to the Milwaukee Business News, the CEO said that Potawatomi had not included all of the details regarding what the new casino would include. Instead, the proposal primarily focuses on its long history and success in Milwaukee, in addition to its marketing plans for the new Waukegan development. And while the proposal does not identify the types of games that the casino would offer, Ferguson did reportedly say that the RFP calls for as many as 2,000 gaming machines, along with table games and various amenities that would attract visitors to the property. Further details, including location and overall size, will reportedly be part of future feasibility studies.
The news agency further reports that the RFP states that Waukegan has targeted a number of properties it possesses as a possible location for a casino, most notably a 28-site situated near the southwest corner of Illinois highways 43 and 120 at the Fountain Square retail and commercial development. The locale is also near U.S. Highway 41 and Interstate 94.
Waukegan reportedly received a half dozen proposals by the Monday cutoff, according to Robert Long, corporation counsel for the city. Other submitted responses were not identified by Long, who said that by early Monday evening officials had yet to review them in detail.
The proposals chosen by the Waukegan City Council will reportedly be forwarded to the Illinois Gaming Board by the end of October this year.
Potential loss of business:
Ferguson said he’s not sure if the new location would take away business from the Milwaukee property, which is owned and operated by the Forest County Potawatomi Community, or how much business would leave. According to Milwaukee Business News, he said that while the opening of a new casino does typically result in others losing business, it also usually expands the market.
Back in May, as part of an effort to have his city selected as the home for one of several proposed new casinos, Mayor Sam Cunningham testified in front of the Illinois House of Representatives that a plan to construct a casino on 32 acres of land his community purchased in 2003 is ‘shovel-ready.’
“The city of Waukegan is ready to transform with the addition of a casino for Lake County. Waukegan is ready to take its vibrant history shaped by the Lake Michigan lakefront, our rich arts and music community, our population of 100,000 and our location as the county seat of Lake County. It is ready to add a casino to that great history.”