The Danville, Illinois casino bidding process is now down to two suitors, the Illinois publication The News-Gazette reported.
Lawmakers approved a bill in June to bring sports betting to Illinois along with six more potential casinos, including one in Danville. The city's deadline for proposals for the casino was Aug. 21.
A required part of the developer selection procedure was to have face-to-face interviews, a requirement that the third developer did not meet. The names of the remaining bidders have not been released.
Both bidders for the new Danville Casino developed their plans for a site close to the Interstate 74 Lynch Drive Exit. The site sits on 40 acres of undeveloped farmland near the state line. The prime location would serve the surrounding areas of Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, as well as Indiana and Wisconsin.
Normally, choosing a site for a casino can take up to a year. However, in June, Danville Mayor Ricky Williams Jr. said that were expediting the process because of competition across state borders, a reported by Danville’s Commercial-News.
On Sept. 3, Mayor Williams expounded on the plan for the new Danville casino at a city council meeting (the casino updates begin at 4 minutes into the Sep. 3 recording of the meeting).
“We had two very strong proposals – both of which selected the Lynch Road site. And because they both chose the same location we will be moving ahead with getting the site before the Zoning Commission as soon as possible. It will be as an item of information next Thursday, and then for a vote in October.
Mayor Williams said they will be slowing the process slightly to help the city chose the best operator for the city, saying, "We are in the process right now of doing due diligence in regards to the financial and regulatory capacity of the two finalists. Again, both of them are strong – just in different ways."
The Illinois Gaming Board’s deadline for a casino operator to apply for a Danville casino license is Oct. 28. Because of the looming deadline, the zoning process will begin before a developer is chosen.
Gaming consultant Tim Brangle, who has been working with city officials on the matter, said that a zoning envelope could be submitted to the city zoning administrators as early as next week. The zoning envelope will be revised once a casino operator is chosen by the city.
Because the location for the casino is isolated, Brangle said it gives them some flexibility since there isn’t a lot of competing zoning interests around it. Consultants have said that the Danville casino complex will likely feature retail shops, restaurants, bars, a hotel, and an entertainment venue.
The developer that gets the bid for the casino will make a public presentation of their proposal at a Danville City Council meeting on Sept. 17.