A new Illinois casino that would be operated by Oklahoma’s Choctaw Nation was approved by local officials for development just south of Chicago on Tuesday. According to The Chicago Citizen, Matteson officials approved a plan to develop the casino in Matteson, a village in Cook County just 30 miles from Chicago.
“I believe this project will be an asset not just to Matteson, but to the entire Southland Region,” Matteson Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin told The Chicago Citizen. “After interviewing multiple casino operators, we felt the team led by the Choctaw Nation provided the best combination of experience, vision, community engagement, and a financially feasible plan.”
Now Matteson will submit the proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board in an effort to secure one of the state’s six new gambling licenses.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is the third-largest federally recognized Indian tribe in the U.S. and operator of 8 casinos across the state. Now, the Choctaw Nation appears to be making an effort to take their casino expertise into the fertile Illinois market where they would partner with local stakeholders.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the casino developers would work with minority business owners, as well as minority-owned firms, to develop various entertainment attractions near the casino. Those plans currently include an indoor golf facility as well as a family entertainment center.
As for the proposed casino itself, the developer’s plans include 2,000 gaming units overall consisting of both slots and table games. There are also plans for a high-end restaurant and convention space according to that same Chicago Sun-Times report as well as a historical exhibit on the multi-cultural history of the Southland area.
Illinois has become a hotbed for casino proposals since Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed Senate Bill 690 into law in June, a massive gambling expansion bill that included the allowance for six new casinos in the state, including one mega-casino in Chicago, to go along with the 10 existing casinos.
While the Chicago mega-casino seems destined to be mired in political machinations for the foreseeable future, other projects have enjoyed easier paths toward becoming realities.
The Waukegan City Council recently narrowed down its list of suitors to three choices for a planned suburban casino less than 60 miles north of Chicago.
But not every town that wants a casino will get one.
Earlier this week, Ho-Chunk Nation announced its own plans for a $300 million casino in the city of Lynwood which is also in Cook County. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, as many as four other towns in the region could also announce their plans soon to compete with the Matteson and Lynwood proposals for the one available casino license for that region.
But however many towns ultimately decide to jump into the fray, there isn’t much time to lose. All such proposals must be turned into the Illinois Gaming Board prior to the deadline for casino license applications at the end of October.
After that, only one casino for the region will be approved to move forward, leaving casino enthusiasts in the towns that didn’t get picked with heavy hearts and long drives ahead of them.