Danville, Illinois Officials Delay Council Vote as Casino Negotiations Continue with Finalists

Posted on: September 19, 2019, 08:55h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2019, 09:57h.

Tuesday was supposed to be the decision day for a casino operator in Danville, Ill. However, with discussions still ongoing, the central Illinois town’s city council won’t take up the measure for another two weeks.

Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. (right) said the city continues its talks with two finalists for a casino in the central Illinois community. The town’s City Council is now scheduled to take up a vote for a recommended casino operator at its next meeting on Oct. 1. (Image: WCIA-TV)

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. told Casino.org that the city is still doing its due diligence on the finalists, including waiting on some financial documents from the finalists. In addition, the city continues to talk with both remaining applicants about what they would be willing to provide for the community.

Therefore, we will have a presentation and final recommendation before the Council on Oct. 1,” Williams said in an email. “This still gives the entity selected plenty of time to complete their application to the state Gaming Board.”

The operator recommended by Danville, as well as other Illinois communities selected for new casinos through the expanded gaming law passed by the state legislature earlier this year, must submit its application to the state by Oct. 28.

The city has not revealed the names of the finalists.

Zoning Process Already Underway

Last month, the city received applications from three operators. Two of the three expressed a willingness to meet face-to-face with city leaders.

In addition, both of those applicants said they preferred the same site for their proposed casino. That enabled city leaders to get a start on the zoning approval process. Danville’s Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to vote on the matter at its October meeting.

The site is located just off Interstate 74 in the city’s industrial park. It’s also next to the Indiana state line, putting it roughly an hour away from Indianapolis, a metropolitan area of more than 2 million people.

The Danville casino is also expected to draw customers from the Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal markets, which are two of the biggest markets in central Illinois, with a combined population of more than 420,000.

Williams has said previously that he expects the casino would create up to 600 full-time jobs for the city of 33,000 people. The city is also expected to receive up to $7 million in tax revenue from the casino, which Williams expects to open by the end of 2021.

Competition Already Coming

While Danville prepares for its casino, it will face likely opposition from across the state line.

In November, voters in Vigo County, Ind. will go to the polls and decide if they want a casino in their community. Residents there earned the right to a referendum after Indiana General Assembly passed an expanded gaming law that allowed the riverboat casino in Gary, which held two licenses, to move inland.

That move will allow Spectacle Entertainment to consolidate its casino operations under one license, freeing up the other for Vigo County, if voters pass the referendum.

Terre Haute, the largest city in Vigo County, is about 60 miles south of Danville.

If the referendum passes, Indiana Gaming Commission officials would then select an operator, with operator applications in Indiana due in December.