Six potential casino developers submit proposals in Waukegan

by Administrator
in Casino

Six prospective casino developers submitted their proposals by Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline, the city’s director of planning and economic development said.

While city staff did not release any details about the proposals as of Monday afternoon, two teams announced they’re in the running.

They include Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, which operates a casino in Milwaukee; and Warner Gaming, which has teamed up with Tap Room Gaming owner and former state Sen. Michael Bond for its proposal, according to news releases and interviews.

Bond, who was at the center of an unprecedented level of spending during the Waukegan aldermanic races this spring, said in an interview Monday he expects the city’s selection process to be “fair, open and transparent."

He said while he has not seen the other proposals, he thinks the one submitted by his team has a “winning formula” with its emphasis on partnerships with local restaurants, its commitment to hiring locally and the “great team” they’ve put together.

Bond has teamed up with Warner Gaming, which takes a locally specific approach to developing its facilities, Chief Executive Officer Bill Warner said.

He pointed, as an example, to a one development where their research determined hotel occupancy in the area was already struggling so they built a smaller hotel as part of their complex. They also didn’t open a steakhouse because the community already had two successful ones, he said.

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino pitched itself in a news release Monday as an experienced operator of a “first-class entertainment experience," touting its Milwaukee casino’s as one of the largest entertainment destinations in the Midwest with 6 million annual visitors.

"Having successfully operated in this gaming market for several decades, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is a natural fit to develop this project and create the entertainment destination that Waukegan is seeking,” CEO and General Manager Rodney Ferguson said in the news release.

The release also pointed to Waukegan’s history with the Potawatomi, noting the name Waukegan came from the Potawatomi word for “trading post.”