Chicago South Suburbs Casino Race Down to Two, as State Rejects Proposals

Posted on: October 21, 2021, 10:08h. 

Last updated on: October 21, 2021, 10:45h.

The bidding process for the lone Chicago casino license earmarked for the South Suburbs is down to two. That’s after the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) yesterday rejected two proposals.

Chicago casino South Suburbs Illinois gaming
Homewood, Il., is one of two finalist towns bidding for the South Suburbs casino license Illinois legalized through its gaming expansion package in 2019. But Matteson officials hope their casino pitch prevails. (Image: South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association)

On Wednesday, gaming regulators disqualified casino pitches targeting Calumet City and Lynwood. The decision leaves development submissions for Homewood and Matteson as the two finalists.

The two dismissals came after the state board heard each presentation last week in a hearing that ran more than five hours. IGB Chair Charles Schmadeke explained that the decision wasn’t easy. But the gaming agency felt the Homewood and Matteson developments are the best fits for the South Suburbs.

The Gaming Board voted unanimously 4-0 to move forward with the two casino tenders. A winner is set to be determined in early 2022.

Finalist Assessments

The Homewood casino plan comes from Wind Creek Hospitality, the gaming unit of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Alabama. The tribal company is becoming a major player in the US gaming industry.

Along with its three tribal casinos in Alabama and gaming venues in Aruba and Curacao, Wind Creek completed its $1.3 billion acquisition of Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania in 2019.

Wind Creek, along with its local development partners, has presented Illinois with a $300 million casino plan near 175th Street off of Interstate 80 in Homewood. The casino resort would feature 1,350 slot machines and 56 table games, a 252-room hotel, and an entertainment venue.

The Matteson bid comes with local businessman Rob Miller and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Its budget is also set at $300 million, with the casino expected to house 1,300 slots and 42 table games.

The project would reimagine vacant space at the shuttered Lincoln Mall. While the initial plan would be gaming only, Choctaw reps said a 200-room hotel and convention center would be considered at a later time.

Casino Rejections

As for the dismissed South Suburbs casinos, the IGB gave few reasons as to why the presentations were rejected.

The Calumet City casino was backed by former NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson, whose career included a stint with the Chicago White Sox. Jackson and Illinois businessman Dan Fischer had presented the state with a $275 million casino development near the River Oaks Mall called Southland Live!

We are disappointed that our proposal — which would open a temporary casino in 90 days to immediately begin revitalizing the economic engine of Calumet City and had extensive community support, plus a strong operator with a proven track record — was deemed insufficient to proceed to the next round,” stated Timothy Hughes, project manager for the undertaking.

The Lynwood casino blueprint came from the Ho-Chunk Nation, a federally recognized tribe in Wisconsin that owns and operates six casinos in its home state. The Native American group presented Illinois with a $390 million casino resort near the Ho-Chunk sports complex in Lynwood.

While the IGB did not provide details as to why the board favored Homewood and Matteson, those two bids are closer to downtown Chicago. The pair are also farther from the commercial casinos in Northwest Indiana than the Calumet City and Lynwood drafts.