Danville, Illinois Officials Down to Two Finalists for Proposed Casino, Both Seek Same Site

Posted on: September 9, 2019, 01:19h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2019, 08:14h.

And then there were two. That’s how many finalists the city of Danville, Ill., has for its proposed casino development, Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. told the City Council at a meeting last week.

This field just off Interstate 74 is the proposed site by two companies that both seek to operate a casino in Danville, Ill. A steering committee reviewing proposals is likely to recommend a proposal to the City Council by next week. (Image: Tracy Crane/The News-Gazette)

The recently elected mayor told the aldermen that they extended an invite for face-to-face interviews with all three developers. One, however, declined, leaving city leaders with two options.

Last month, Williams told Casino.org the plan was to submit a recommended developer to the Council at the meeting last Tuesday. While that did not happen, the project continues to move forward in order to meet the state’s deadline Oct. 28 for the casino application.

For starters, Williams told the Council, both finalists picked the same property for its proposed site. As a result, city leaders will move forward with getting the land rezoned. The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission received the recommendation at its Thursday meeting and will consider it for a vote next month.

The site under consideration by both finalists is a tract of land in the city’s industrial park. It’s located right off Interstate 74, with exit ramps within proximity. It is adjacent to the Indiana state line.

That site is also roughly an hour away from Indianapolis, Indiana’s state capital and largest city with a metropolitan population of nearly 2 million. It’s also a short drive from the Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal communities in central Illinois, which have a combined population of more than 420,000.

Recommendation Likely Next Week

The mayor told aldermen he now plans to submit the steering committee’s recommendation at the Council meeting on Sept. 17.

“Both of them are strong, just in different ways,” Williams said.

Before then, the city will continue its due diligence, such as reviewing both finalists financial and regulatory backgrounds.

In addition, Williams said the city will negotiate with each to determine what benefits they can offer the city.

What are they going to give to you, the community and to our citizens beyond what is required by the statute,” he added.

Danville received the right to pursue a casino thanks to an expanded gaming bill the Illinois legislature passed earlier this year to help generate revenue for the state’s underfunded pension system. While concerns have been raised about the viability of a Chicago casino, communities like Danville and Rockford have moved forward with bringing a regional attraction along with the jobs and the potential spinoff development that comes from them.

Hundreds of Jobs Expected

Williams previously said he expects the casino to create up to 600 full-time jobs in the city of 33,000, plus additional part-time opportunities as well. In addition to the benefits created by the new jobs, the city also anticipates receiving up to $7 million in new tax revenue.

The Danville casino would likely open by the end of 2021.

The Danville casino will likely face competition from a casino planned for Terre Haute, Ind., located about an hour south. Voters in Vigo County will go to the polls in November to decide whether to allow casino gaming in a referendum that Indiana lawmakers approved when they also passed an expanded gaming law earlier this year.