The City of Rockford, Illinois has extended the deadline for an ongoing request for proposals process for the development of a casino in the city.
City officials previously gave developers up to August 16 to submit their interest in building a casino in Rockford. However, interested companies now have through August 30 to participate in the request for proposals process.
The development of a casino in Rockford was authorized as part of a major gambling expansion package signed into law by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The expansion legislation also provides for the addition of five more new casinos around the state, including one in Chicago with up to 4,000 gambling positions.
Rockford officials said that the original, August 16, deadline gave potential casino license bidders only 44 days to prepare and complete their applications. This is less than the industry standard for casino request for proposal responses.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara explained that because the original deadline would not give interested developers enough time, city officials had to push it back two weeks. The new extension gives potential bidders 58 days to submit their proposals.
Although the deadline has been extended, the timetables for their review have remained unchanged.
What Are the Next Stages in the Casino Developer Selection Process?
Once the request for proposals process is complete on August 30, Rockford’s evaluation team will review the received proposals from interested developers and will submit its recommendations to the City Council by September 16.
A public hearing on the matter will be held on September 23. The Rockford City Council will then certify all proposals by September 30. The applications will be filed with the Illinois Gaming Board by October 25. The state’s gambling regulator will have the final say in selecting the winning bidder.
While no requests for proposals have been submitted with city officials yet, two organizations have emerged as potential bidders.
Florida-based gaming and hospitality giant Hard Rock International has unveiled a plan for the development of a casino at the site of the city’s former Clock Tower Resort at East State Street and I-90. Many believe the site is the front-runner in the race for a preferred location for the casino as it has the potential to generate the most revenue for local and state governments.
Last week, developer Gorman & Company revealed that it, too, was interested in bidding for a casino. Unlike Hard Rock, Gorman favors a downtown Rockford site for the gambling venue. The company currently develops Embassy Suites Hotel and Rockford Conference Center in the heart of the city and plans to build the casino next to that property, if it wins the race.
Company officials said that casinos are most successful when they are part of “an integrated entertainment, restaurant and activity district” because they can create a critical mass.
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