Danville officials still hopeful for casino, despite delays

Officials in an eastern Illinois city are still hopeful their community can land a casino, despite delays in the state’s application process caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed gambling-expansion legislation in June 2019 that allowed for six new casino licenses in Illinois. More than 18 months later, Danville officials are still awaiting a decision on their bid.

Danville’s first bid, from Haven Gaming LLC, was withdrawn after the gaming board deemed it incomplete, The News-Gazette reported.

But an updated application was submitted in November. That proposal came from a reconfigured entity called Danville Development LLC, which is planning a casino at the site of a former warehouse.

“Now we’re simply waiting on the state,” said Danville Mayor Rickey Williams. “No one has been approved yet, and COVID set everything back.”

The casino project would be led by Rochester, N.Y.-based Wilmorite Construction, which has secured Golden Nugget branding for the casino, along with online sports wagering and a Landry’s steakhouse. Its proposal also would include 500 slot machines, a food court and more than 700 parking spaces.

Wilmorite officials said in August they expected the casino would bring in about $66 million annually, with about $6.2 million of that going to the city.

“We’re hopeful that come spring, we’ll have some more feedback and possibly a license in place so we can get up and running,” said James Wilmot, vice president of gaming development for Wilmorite.

Wilmot said a casino in Terre Haute, Indiana, that received its license in May would provide some competition for a Danville casino because the two cities are about 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) apart.

“We’re looking forward to competing for that customer,” he said.

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