Suburban Chicago Casino Project Approved by Homewood Board

Suburban Chicago Casino Project Approved by Homewood Board
By Jake Perper

The town of Homewood, Illinois, about 35 miles south of Chicago, approved a proposal for a casino with a hotel Monday night.

The plans include a southern suburban casino and brand new hotel as a $275-million project by Wind Creek Hospitality. The casino would lie on almost 64,000 square feet and a 24-acre location will be right off of I-80 close on 175th street and Halsted Street, which lies in the Homewood and East Hazel Crest area.

Casino Proposal Has a Ways to Go

The initial phase of the casino, entertainment center, bars and restaurants is expected to cost close to $300 million, while the second phase with a 21-story hotel would cost around $154 million, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

The projected timeline of the hotel, which includes an indoor pool and spa, would come just about 14 months following the launch of the casino. The casino itself is expected to have more than 1,300 slot machines and around 60 table games.

Again, this is just a proposal and not a done deal because the project needs approval from the East Hazel Crest village board as well. Then comes the Illinois Gaming Board as the ultimate decider, though plenty of bidders are already lined up.

The next big vote comes Wednesday when the East Hazel Crest village board are going to meet to discuss whether or not to recommend the proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board as Homewood did on Monday.

The estimated total revenue from the Homewood casino sits at around $155 million per year, according to Chicago NBC affiliate WMAQ. A portion of the revenue would not only go to the Homewood and East Hazel Crest areas, but also 41 other suburban towns.

Job Opportunities Abound But Some Residents Concerned

In the Monday night meeting, a group of residents made it clear they were concerned about the crime that the felt could come to the area because of the casino.

"We're not anticipating hiring a whole new police force over this," Homewood Police Chief William Alcott told WMAQ. "The other agencies are not seeing a major uptick in crime when they first opened there."

As for potential jobs created, Wind Creek Hospitality estimates that once the casino and hotel is fully operational it would open up around 800 full-time positions that would equal a payroll annually of around $38 million.

Wind Creek Hospitality is based in Atmore, Alabama and manages gambling locations in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and the Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curacao (on behalf of the Poarch tribe).

On top of the Wednesday meeting with the East Hazel Crest Village board, the Illinois Gaming Board has set an Oct. 28 deadline for casino applications. Under the gambling expansion laws in place it could take around a year’s time to review the applications.

Homewood would be convenient to many Chicago residents and those near the city. A study earlier this year revealed that there were no viable locations within the city proper for a casino, so this would be one of the next best options.

If the casino project is approved following the next few steps, then the southern suburbs of Chicago would see a big boost in revenue.

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Jake Perper covers casino news for A veteran of more than a decade of sports writing, he has covered the Chicago Bears for the Bears Backer blog, and his stories have also appeared on, The Tampa Tribune, The Naples Daily News and Bleacher Report. He is also the leas scout for Prep Hoops Florida, based in Tampa.

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