Rockford, Illinois, is moving quickly on its casino project.
On Monday, the Hard Rock International Casino earned the recommendation to proceed with the casino from the city.
Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and his administration recommended the Hard Rock International to earn the only casino license in Rockford.
“We believe Hard Rock has by far the most thorough and complete proposal delivered to the city,” McNamara told the Rockford Register Star. “We believe the other proposals have some fairly glaring weaknesses, and we believe the greatest likelihood for the city to get a casino is with Hard Rock.”
McNamara said the Hard Rock brand had the “financing structure” and has “realistic and sustainable minimum gambling tax guarantees, along with additional revenue sharing payments to offset impacts to the city,” per the Register Star report.
The temporary spot for the Hard Rock Casino in Rockford will reside at Giovanni’s Restaurant & Convention Center while the final location will sit on the property that used to boast the Clock Tower Resort on 25 acres of land. McNamara told the Register Star that the Hard Rock Casino has come to terms on “a minimum payment of $7 million annually of gaming taxes to the city.”
The Hard Rock International is pitching a casino with 1,500 slot machines and 55 table games, a Hard Rock Cafe and a 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue at the I-90 exit.
The 14-member Rockford City Council will have to vote by the Oct. 26 deadline to officially stamp its approval and move the process along on one or more of the applicants to the Illinois Gaming Board. This will officially decide who among three bidders wins the coveted casino license. McNamara said he recommended that the council find a consensus and make their final vote on Oct. 7.
The Rockford casino project drew three candidates – in addition to Hard Rock, Forest City and Rock River West also made presentations to the city.
Chicago Casino Project Issues
The state of Illinois has been also looking into adding a casino in Chicago for quite some time. But most of that momentum has been downhill as the year has progressed.
On Aug. 13, the Chicago Tribune reported that a study found that the state-approved proposal would not be practical because of “very onerous” taxes. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has recommended five sites in the south and west portions of the city but the study said the casino would fail to draw enough tourists because they are seen as unsafe and inconvenient or lack nearby attractions.
This is pertinent to Rockford because the city sits about 90 miles west of Chicago. With traffic in the busy hours it is over a two-hour drive, but many gamblers are likely to plan days and nights around it because casinos are a big market.
For now, Rockford looks like an ideal location to earn a hefty rise in city revenue as Chicago works out its process, which could take quite some time, of getting a casino project off the ground.