Illinois Casino expansion finally moving along

Southland Casino

It has been more than two years since Illinois approved a package that included the building of more casinos, but not much has been done since that time.

Things started to pick up over the summer, and now at least one project is ready to take the next step.

The Illinois Gaming Board is set to hear from four different applicants looking to build the Southland Casino, and it will also hear proposals for a casino in Waukegan as well. Both of these locations are near the Chicagoland area and have been chosen as new locations for casinos in Illinois.

Not only will the IGB be listening to proposals from different casino operators, but each will also present a future location for the Southland Casino. Some proposals include using tribal land as the location while others are hoping to use retail space that is already established.

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This meeting is set to take place on October 13, and the IGB will be eliminating one proposal for the Southland Casino. A winner is expected to be chosen at some point in January 2022, and groundbreaking could begin shortly after.

The state has been more focused on sports betting over the last few years, but things have shifted to casino gambling in 2021.

Churchill Downs Out of Waukegan Bidding

One of the companies that won’t be included in the bidding for the Waukegan Casino is Churchill Downs Inc. Churchill Downs announced that it has removed itself from consideration after agreeing to sell the Arlington Racecourse to the Chicago Bears.

When the Arlington Racecourse went up for sale earlier this year it was expected to draw in plenty of bids from rival casino operators. Churchill Downs was not willing to sell the property to a rival as it has a stake in the Rivers Casino in nearby Des Plaines.

There are still plenty of things that need to happen before the deal with the Chicago Bears is finalized, but this is a dream scenario for Churchill Downs. Not only would this keep the famous track from becoming a potential casino, but BetRivers and the Chicago Bears are already partners.

Where Do the Bears Fit In?

It’s still unclear how the Chicago Bears fit into the whole gaming industry in Illinois, and it’s unclear what they plan to do with the racecourse. Many believe that the Bears are serious about building a new stadium in Arlington Heights and ditching Soldier Field altogether.

Illinois state law does allow for sports betting to take place within a certain radius of a major sports stadium in the state. That specific law has not been utilized up to this point, but it could be a big reason why the Bears are looking into Arlington Racecourse.

Churchill Downs and Rush Street Gaming could also find a way to offer gaming right there on-site at the track and continue their partnership with the Chicago Bears. These plans won’t be discussed until the final sale is approved, but it will be something to keep an eye on as things move forward.

If you want to stay up to date on all sports betting in Illinois, then make sure you check back regularly on our news blog.

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