Illinois Gaming Board Picks Full House, Wind Creek to Advance for Casino Projects

Posted on: December 9, 2021, 09:13h. 

Last updated on: December 9, 2021, 10:24h.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) moved forward Wednesday on two new casinos, picking Full House Resorts and Wind Creek Hospitality as its choices to operate gaming facilities in Waukegan and Chicago’s South Suburbs, respectively.

Full House American Place
A rendering of Full House Resorts’ planned American Place casino in Waukegan, Ill. On Wednesday, the Illinois Gaming Board selected the Las Vegas-based company for preliminary licensure for the Waukegan casino project. The IGB also approved Wind Creek Hospitality for preliminary licensure for a project in Chicago’s South Suburbs. (Image: Full House Resorts)

Wednesday’s votes are not the final action for either casino, as the IGB approved both developers for preliminary licenses. The board will still need to approve both for final licensure, a move that requires additional reviews.

Board members selected Las Vegas-based Full House to move on for final consideration on the Waukegan license over a $452 million proposal led by former state Sen. Michael Bond and Warner Gaming.

We appreciate the confidence they put in us, and we will now begin working to build the spectacular American Place and make the State of Illinois and the City of Waukegan proud,” Full House Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer Alex Stolyar told

Wind Creek, which plans a 70,000-square-foot casino stretching between East Hazel Crest and Homewood, advanced over a plan put forward by officials in Matteson, who partnered with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Part of 2019 Expended Gaming Law

Casino licenses were included in an expanded gaming bill state lawmakers approved in 2019. The licenses were approved for Waukegan, which is located about 30 miles north of Chicago near the Wisconsin state line, and Chicago’s south suburbs. That bill also set aside licenses for Rockford, Danville, and Williamson County. It also earmarked a casino license for Chicago.

The approval process for those licenses has been met with delays by the state, and in some instances, the communities or projects selected by local leaders.

A temporary casino has opened in Rockford, where Hard Rock International will build a permanent facility. A groundbreaking also took place at the Walker’s Bluff Resort and Casino in downstate Williamson County on Wednesday. An application for a Golden Nugget Casino managed by Wilmot Gaming in Danville awaits preliminary approval by the IGB.

Next Thursday, representatives for the five casino proposals for Chicago’s license will give presentations to the public and city officials. From those five, city leaders next year will pick one applicant to present to the IGB for its consideration.

Villas Planned for Luxury Resort in Waukegan

For Full House, the victory in Illinois comes a month after it was edged out next door in Indiana by Churchill Downs Incorporated to operate a casino in Terre Haute.

In Waukegan, Full House has proposed building a resort that would include a 20-villa upscale hotel as part of the first phase, and a 150-room, four-star hotel in the second.

In a press release, Full House President and CEO Dan Lee said a temporary facility should open by the middle of next year, and “completion of our full experience” should take place in 2024. That’s provided it receives final approvals and licensure from the IGB.

Wind Creek Touts Higher Revenue Generation

In the South Suburbs, Wind Creek has proposed a “four-diamond” casino that it has estimated would generate $140 million more in taxes than the proposed Choctaw casino in Matteson over a 20-year period.

“Throughout this process, we have reiterated the belief that we offer the best location in and for the south suburban region – and will deliver on our commitments to job creation, community and economic investment, sustained operational excellence, and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in all phases of construction and operation,” said Jay Dorris, Wind Creek Hospitality’s president and CEO, in a statement.

Pending final regulatory approvals, Wind Creek expects to open in 2023.