A field of applicants to run a new Illinois casino in Chicago’s southern suburbs was winnowed down to two finalists last week.
The two groups chosen by the Illinois Gaming Board were Wind Creek Hospitality, which is a subsidiary of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and South Suburban Development, LLC — a consortium led by Hinsdale businessman Robert Miller and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Both finalists are seeking to build a casino, either near Homewood and East Hazel Crest or in Matteson, with the final choice being made by the Board in 2022.
The casino expansion is part of the state’s 2019 gambling legislation, signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The proposed South Side facility joins a Rockford casino and one in Williamson County, which have already received initial approval. Illinois plans to add six casinos in the coming years, increasing the number in state to 16.
A casino in downtown Chicago was also part of the 2019 legislation. The city started taking proposals in April and expects to announce the finalists next year. The downtown Chicago casino is scheduled to open in 2025.
Representatives from the finalists to build in Chicago’s southern suburbs can address the Gaming Board when it convenes Thursday morning, Chairman Charles Schmadeke said. There will also be opportunity for additional public comment at the board’s next regular meeting Nov. 18.
What Each Bid Entails
The Matteson proposal includes a $300 million development with a 123,000-square-foot casino and a 200-room hotel.
The Wind Creek Hospitality bid, meanwhile, is a $300 million development, with a 64,000-square-foot casino and 21-story hotel serving as cornerstones of the project.
The board is also looking at two finalists for a casino project in Waukegan, which will be determined later.
Why the South Side Development is Important
Schmadeke addressed the board’s impetus for approving a casino project on the Windy City’s South Side during the meeting, saying the area needs good-paying jobs and economic development opportunities.
The goal of the board’s meeting, according to Schmadeke, was to forward no more than three applicants as finalists for the development in the southern suburbs, ensuring those making the final cut have the community’s best interest at heart.
“The level of community support is important, not just from the elected leaders of the host community, but from the community as a whole,” he said. “Several applicants noted that the South Side suburbs are distressed. In my view, finding an operator who understands this and can provide jobs and, help the development of this distressed area is very important.”
In the end, South Suburban Development, LLC, and Windy Creek’s applications were unanimously approved by the board, 4-0, setting the stage for a final decision on the project in the new year.