Four South Suburban Towns Submitted Their Proposals

Country Club Hills, Crestwood drop casino bids; field down to four in south suburbs as state deadline passes

By MIKE NOLAN          DAILY SOUTHTOWN | OCT 28, 2019 | 5:54 PM

Country Club Hills dropped out of the crowded field competing for a coveted south suburban casino license, as other communities filed applications touting multimillion-dollar developments with the Illinois Gaming Board to meet Monday’s deadline.

Country Club Hills, which last week had approved plans to seek a casino license, has since reversed course and is instead backing a proposal filed Monday by Matteson, according to Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin. Country Club Hills Mayor James Ford did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In a statement, Chalmers-Currin said she and Ford had discussed the casino license issue this past weekend.

Crestwood had also indicated it planned to partner with neighboring Robbins on a casino license, but Crestwood wasn’t on a list of license applicants provided by the gaming board.

The south suburban casino license is earmarked for a location in one of six townships: Bloom, Bremen, Calumet, Rich, Thornton or Worth.

Revenue sharing from any south suburban casino would benefit the host community as well as dozens of other area suburbs, according to the new state law expanding gambling throughout Illinois.

A gaming board spokesman said applications filed Monday needed to be checked for completeness, but Monday’s deadline means the field of four candidates has solidified and no new proposals will pop up.

Under the law, the gaming board has up to a year to consider the applications. New casinos are also allowed for Chicago, Rockford, Waukegan and in two downstate locations.

Here are snapshots of the south suburban casino plans publicly disclosed in recent weeks.

Calumet City

Calumet City hopes a $275 million casino-anchored development will spur a rebirth for the struggling River Oaks shopping center.

The city is teaming up with Southland Live Casino, a partnership that includes the privately held firm Delaware North, which operates a casino in Illinois. A vacant Carson Pirie Scott store at the shopping center, southeast of Torrence Avenue and 159th Street, just east of Interstate 94, would be used as a temporary casino while a 150,000-square-foot permanent structure is built, according to plans.

East Hazel Crest/Homewood

East Hazel Crest and Homewood are partnering with a company affiliated with Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians.

Wind Creek Hospitality wants to build a 64,000-square-foot casino on a 24-acre site southwest of the interchange of Interstate 80 and Halsted Street, spending nearly $300 million on an initial phase that would also include an entertainment center. A second phase would include a 21-story hotel.

The site used to be home to two hotels and is in both suburbs.

Lynwood

The Ho-Chunk Nation, which operates casinos in Wisconsin, is partnering with Lynwood to develop a $300 million casino and hotel on land the nation owns just east of Illinois 394 and north of the highway’s interchange with Glenwood-Dyer Road.

The Ho-Chunk have more than 120 acres and operate Southland Center, an indoor and outdoor sports facility. Plans call for a temporary casino to be operated while the permanent facility is being built.

Matteson

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is partnering with the village on a casino development at the northeast corner of U.S. 30 and Harlem Avenue. The first phase would be a 123,000-square-foot casino, with a 200-room hotel and convention center being built later on. The tribe estimates the total development could represent an investment of $300 million.

The Choctaw operate seven casinos as well as 15 mini casinos that are part of travel centers in Oklahoma.


Group: South suburbs should share any area casino proceeds

TINLEY PARK | At a time when Illinois communities prepare to fight over which may receive a proposed casino, one local group said south suburban communities should share in the potential for financial benefits.

South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association President Paul Braun told the Illinois House Executive Committee it believes the south suburbs will suffer if a casino in the area devolves into a financial fight between communities.

Braun, the village president of Flossmoor, told the committee any bill approved by the General Assembly to expand the number of casinos ought to include a revenue-sharing provision.

The association would want to get a share of the casino proceeds, then split it among the 43 municipalities of the group. Braun said communities struggling financially would receive a larger share, but said all should get something.

“We see the 43 communities as one,” said Braun. “We wouldn’t presume to tell communities how to spend their dollars. Some of them might need it for daily operations costs, while others might use it for special projects.”

State Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, didn’t agree. Homewood has its own agreement with East Hazel Crest to develop a casino together. He said that under the association’s proposal, wealthier communities such as Tinley Park and Orland Park would also get benefits.

“Why should all 43 communities be included when some need it more than others?” he said.

State Rep. Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields, said the bill as drafted, already includes provisions calling for sharing of revenues from a casino in the south suburbs.

Officials from communities such as Chicago Heights, Ford Heights and Lynwood were present, hoping to learn information that would help them strengthen their own proposals.

Dolton village President Riley Rogers said the village owns 88 acres of land on Dolton Road just west of the Bishop Ford Freeway that could become a casino. Rogers told The Times it would be the site closest to the Chicago city limits and just one municipality away from the Illinois/Indiana border.

Rogers said he’s trying to make up for lost time, as former village President Ronnie Lewis, “never presented anything to try to bring a casino to Dolton.”

By Gregory Tejeda – Times Correspondent

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