A rendering of Wind Creek Hospitality’s proposed casino complex in the south suburbs of Chicago. (Rendering Courtesy Wind Creek Hospitality)
The Poarch Band’s gaming and hospitality arm, Wind Creek Hospitality, currently operates 10 properties in its home state of Alabama, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, and in the Caribbean — in Aruba and Curacao. Now the Band is joining at least two other Tribal Nations (the Forest County Potawatomi Community and the Seminole Nation) in vying for a commercial casino license in Illinois.
In July 2019, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a gambling package into law that expands the number of casinos licenses available in Illinois — in Waukegan, Rockford, Danville, Williamson County, the south suburbs of Chicago, and the city of Chicago. Ten casinos are already in operation in the state, with six more forthcoming.
The Poarch Band has its eyes on the suburbs of East Hazel Crest and Homewood, located about 26 miles south of downtown Chicago. The 24-acre site of the facility would actually straddle both villages, which would share in a portion of casino revenue, along with dozens of other area communities. East Hazel Crest and Homewood village officials are scheduled to vote next week on agreements supporting their casino project of choice.
The Tribe’s $275 million proposal would feature a 64,000-square-foot casino with more than 1,300 slot machines and 56 table games, plus an entertainment center, three restaurants, two bars, a skyline lounge, and after the second-phase of construction, a 251-room hotel with an indoor pool and spa. Company officials say the casino would create an estimated 800 full-time jobs.
“Wind Creek Hospitality has a proven track record of success in developing high-quality and successful casino and entertainment projects, and we’re excited about the opportunity to bring one to Illinois,” Brent Pinkston, the chief operating officer for Wind Creek Hospitality, said in a media release.
Forest County Potawatomi Community
The Forest County Potawatomi Community is among the Tribes pursuing a casino in Illinois. The Tribe’s Potawatomi Hotel & Casino — an off-reservation casino situated in the heart of Milwaukee in neighboring Wisconsin, attracting more than 6 million visitors annually — is among six businesses bidding to develop a commercial casino in the city of Waukegan, a suburb north of Chicago. Waukegan is rich with Tribal history, in the heart of Potawatomi treaty lands. Potential developers had to submit their proposals to the city of Waukegan by Monday, August 5, and theIllinois Gaming Board is expected to make a decision on the Waukegan casino by the end of October. The Waukegan Potawatomi Casino would be licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board and operated subject to the state and local laws of Illinois.
The Seminole Tribe, owners of the Hard Rock International franchise, is the other Nation in the running to operate a casino in Illinois. The Hard Rock is applying for a license in Rockford, near the northern border of Illinois with Wisconsin. After evaluating proposals from Hard Rock, Rock River West Casino Group and Forest City Casino, the City of Rockford plans to recommend its certification of Hard Rock, which has agreed to a minimum payment of $7 million of gaming taxes to the city, to the Illinois Gaming Board, reported NBC.
“After review and consideration of all the responses and weighing the totality of the strengths and weaknesses against the City’s objectives, City Staff recommends that the City Council certify the Hard Rock Proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara recently said.