Illinois Gaming Bill Gives Danville a ‘Second Shot’ to Apply for Casino License
Posted on: May 27, 2020, 11:08h.
Last updated on: May 28, 2020, 08:59h.
A bill before Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker that revises the tax structure for a proposed Chicago casino also includes a provision meant to help Danville secure its casino. The move comes after the group seeking to build one had its request to revise its license application denied earlier this year.
The Central Illinois town on the Indiana state line, with a population of 30,000, was one of five communities, in addition to the Windy City, to be chosen for a casino under an expanded gaming law the state legislature passed last year.
However, concerns about the application for Danville led lawmakers to include an amendment in Senate Bill 516. It states that if there are no pending license applications after June 1 and not all licenses have been authorized, then the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) “shall reopen” the process for the cities selected.
State Rep. Mike Marron (R-Fithian), who represents Danville in the state House, said the casino project is a critically important economic development project for the region.
“What the language would simply do, if for some reason the applicant that’s before the Gaming Board would not have their application approved, it would reset the clock and give Danville a second shot, which is so critically important to my district,” he told lawmakers, according to VermillionCountyFirst.com.
In October, Danville chose to endorse Haven Gaming LLC’s casino proposal. The company’s plans called for building a casino that would house 1,250 slot machines and 40 table games. It would include a resort hotel along with other amenities, including a 2,500-seat theater and a conference center.
Project leaders said they planned to potentially open a temporary casino as soon as nine months after the IGB approved the license application.
IGB Chair Questions Danville Application
Haven Gaming submitted its application to the IGB on Oct. 28, the deadline the board set for license applications. At the board’s Jan. 30 meeting, Haven Gaming sought IGB approval to revise the application.
Ed Winkofsky, a lawyer representing Haven, told the board that some of the participants in the project changed in the week leading up to the application deadline. Company officials made “best efforts” to provide information despite the “unfortunate situation” prior to the submission deadline, he added.
IGB Chairman Charles Schmadeke was critical of the initial submission, asking if it was simply a “placeholder” application. He even questioned the use of Winkofsky’s description.
Frankly, I don’t even consider it bare bones,” he said. “It’s nothing. There was no disclosure or no even disclosure on what they’re trying to accomplish or what prevented them from answering some of those questions.”
The IGB voted 3-1 against allowing Haven to submit a revised application in January, but did not take action on the application itself.
The January meeting has been the IGB’s only meeting this year, as the COVID-19 crisis led to the cancellation of the March and April scheduled meetings.
The next scheduled meeting is set for June 11.
Indiana Moves Forward
Any delay in Danville getting its license could impact the city and project itself. While Illinois is considering a license for Danville, next door neighbor Indiana earlier this month approved a casino license for Terre Haute, a city about 50 miles south of Danville.
Both casinos will look to pull customers from similar markets in the central parts of both states.
Haven Gaming’s leadership includes Kathryn Solomon, Bill Bembenek, and Scott Sypolt. Winkofsky acknowledged a request for comment from Casino.org on Tuesday. However, no one from the company returned a call or email.
In an email to Casino.org, Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said Tuesday he would not comment until IGB makes a move on the application.