Wind Creek Pitches Suburban Chicago Casino Plan

Wind Creek Hospitality, the gaming and hospitality arm of Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians, is looking to tap into suburban Chicago’s market with a multi-million dollar proposal for the development of a casino resort in East Hazel Crest and Homewood.

A massive gambling expansion package passed in the Illinois Legislature earlier this year authorized the development of up to six casinos around the state, including one in Chicago’s south suburbs.

Wind Creek, which recently closed a $1.3 billion deal for the acquisition of Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, announced Wednesday that it would seek a license to open a gambling resort namely in suburban Chicago.

The hospitality company said that the first phase of their project would include the development of a 64,000-square-foot casino with 1,300 slot machines and around 60 table games, an entertainment venue with live music space, three dining outlets, and two bars. That first phase is estimated to cost around $275 million.

A second phase of the project is expected to open in the fourth year of operation. It would include a 251-room hotel with an indoor pool and spa.

The resort would be built on a 24-acre site, more than a half of which is in East Hazel Crest, while its remaining portion is in Homewood. Officials in Homewood and East Hazel Crest are set to take up the casino matter and vote on it next week.

Wind Creek Chief Operating Officer Brent Pinkston said Wednesday that his company has been working with East Hazel Crest and Homewood for several year now, since the possibility for the development of south suburban casino was first pitched in the Illinois Legislature.

Gambling Revenue and Tax Allocation

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said Wednesday that a casino in the area could generate revenue of more than $155 million during its first year of operation. Part of that revenue would go to the village for being one of the two hosts of the property.

Under Illinois law, the host community and 42 other south suburbs would receive 5% of the revenue generated by the local casino. The two host communities would be entitled to 2% of the gambling venue’s monthly adjusted gross receipts, while another 3% would go to 41 other south suburbs. Homewood and East Hazel Crest would also get $1 of the $3 admission tax per person per casino visit.

As mentioned earlier, 55% of Wind Creek’s casino site is located in East Hazel Crest and the remaining 45% in Homewood. That is how the two host communities will share tax money from the gambling facility. The allocation of gambling revenue for the host communities has been agreed upon in a long-standing contract drafted by the concerned parties in case they are given the green light to host a casino.

Wind Creek said that its casino, if approved by Illinois officials, could create the equivalent of 800 permanent jobs. The Illinois Gaming Board will accept casino license applications until October 28. And under the state’s expanded gambling law, the regulator has up to a year to review all applications received.

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