Posted on: Feb 6, 2021, 9:37 am.
Last update on: February 6, 2021, 10:10 am.
One day after the Illinois Gaming Board granted preliminary approval to build a Hard Rock Casino in Rockford, Governor JB Pritzker (D) congratulated the city and supporters of the $ 310 million planned development.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (right) speaks to staff at a Rockford High School vaccination clinic Friday. At an on-site press conference, Pritzker congratulated the city on the Illinois Gaming Board's preliminary approval of a casino. (Image: GovPritzker / Twitter)
During a COVID vaccine press conference on Friday in the northern Illinois community, Pritzker paid tribute to the work behind the scenes by Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, D, particularly last year. The governor said he had spoken to the mayor several times during the year, and Pritzker said the issue had been raised at every conversation.
There couldn't be a better time to fuel new jobs and economic development for this region as well as for the state of Illinois, "said the governor.
The action of the ITUC means that construction of the project can begin. However, the city guides were not entirely sure when this work would begin.
Rockford is the first community to receive preliminary approval for a standalone casino license created under the 2019 Expanded Gambling Act. Additional casinos are planned for downtown Chicago, Danville, the southern suburbs of Chicago, and Williamson County.
Work is underway to add casinos to two racetracks in the state.
The investigation raises questions, but so far no evidence
The ITUC gave its approval, although a major investor in the project has another company that is currently under investigation by the agency.
Dan Fischer is the managing partner of 815 Entertainment. He also owns a chain of game cafes. This company continues to be investigated after questions about acquiring another chain's properties were raised. Under the agreement, Fischer paid $ 2 million while a gaming terminal provider paid $ 44 million.
Illinois state law prohibits slot machine operators from owning facilities in which they are hosted.
A Fischer spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune that the Rockford team looks forward to meeting with IGB staff to answer "any questions" as the project progresses through the approval process.
The stakeholders presented their casino plans to the board at a January 27 meeting. On Thursday morning, ITUC board members met in a closed session to discuss the project. That afternoon they met for a brief meeting to unanimously give their first approval. There was no discussion of the investigation in an open session.
Board chairman Charles Schmadeke said he had some questions about relationships but noted that there was no evidence.
Senator Awaits Final Casino Approval "Coming Soon"
Pritzker isn't the only official excited that the casino project is moving forward in Illinois' second largest city. McNamara thanked the governor and the local delegation that Rockford represents in the state assembly for their work.
State Senator Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) said it took 20 years to get a casino for Rockford. He thanked McNamara, the city staff, Fischer, and Hard Rock International for their work. He added that some criticized the city's plan to select a candidate and submit him to the ITUC. However, the municipalities that have made several proposals to state regulators are still waiting to be heard.
"While today's promotion is not final approval, it does allow Hard Rock to get the temporary casino up and running for us." said Senator Syverson, a co-founder of the expanded gaming bill. “I am confident that final approval will come soon as a great job has been done at the front end of this process. This is a huge win for Rockford and the region. "
Developers will build the casino in the city's former Clock Tower Resort just off Interstates 39 and 90. It will employ up to 1,000 people. Up to 1,200 construction works will be carried out by the time the venue opens.
After the opening, the facility will contain a 65,000 square meter casino and an auditorium with 1,600 seats.