The development team vying for one of south suburban Chicago casino licenses changed its plans after several neighboring community groups raised issues with the developer's original location choice. The licenses were up for grabs after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gambling bill into law in summer 2019.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, South Suburban Development LLC submitted its amendment to the application to open a casino in Matteson, a suburb around 30 miles south of Chicago. It includes details about a different location for the casino after concerns were raised over the original location, in Frankfort, being too close to schools. State gambling regulators approved the group's application to instead build the casino at an alternate site three miles east in Matteson, in what used to be a mall.
That doesn't mean the casino will be opening any time soon. In fact, it doesn't even mean the casino will be built at all. South Suburban Development LLC's proposed casino is just one of four applications for a license. Other applicants include plans for casinos in Calumet City, Lynwood and East Hazel Crest/Homewood.
The Illinois Gaming Board has a year to review applications before issuing any of the casino licenses.
Amendments to existing applications submitted to the Gaming Board for approval aren't an easy process. According to the same report, another group of investors submitted an amendment request only to be denied by the board.
Haven Gaming LLC, which had previously submitted an application for a casino license in the eastern Illinois city of Danville, was rebuffed by the Gaming Board for not having submitted an adequate application in the first place. According to the Sun-Times, Gaming Board Chairman Charles Schmadeke ripped that group’s initial effort as something less than “bare bones."
Ilinois legalized sports betting and additional casinos in the state when Gov. Pritzker signed a massive gambling expansion into law. Signed in June, the law is part of a $45 billion capital plan but has been a slow process.
Not only are groups still vying for the casino licenses, but the planned Chicago mega casino still appears to be stuck in a holding pattern as city and state lawmakers go back and forth over what should happen next.
Chicago hopes to become the largest American city with a casino. With lawmakers deadlocked over what tax rates should be and construction not even set to begin anytime soon, it looks like it will be a long time before Gov. Pritzker's master plan comes to fruition.