Gaming regulators find selection more appealing than two others
gambling regulators have awarded the village
of Des Plaines and
Midwest Gaming & Entertainment LLC the state’s only unused casino license,
essentially because the bid was viewed as not raising the ethical concerns of
the two other contenders.
Des Plaines beat out bids from Chicago
suburbs Rosemont and Waukegan
on a 3-1 vote by the five-member Illinois Gaming Board, with panel member
Eugene Winkler abstaining because he didn’t believe any of the three finalists
Although Midwest Gaming said it would build the casino
near the intersection of Devon
Avenue and River Road just outside the Chicago city limits, the
company faces as least six more months of vetting before it can begin, pushing
the casino’s opening date to late 2010.
Ethical issues, compounded by the recent corruption
allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed all of the
board’s five members, cast a pall over the selection process. Panelist said
they couldn’t ignore the past problems of contender Rosemont, which twice was
in line to get the casino license, only to lose it due to allegations of the
late Mayor Donald E. Stephen’s relationship with mob figures. And Waukegan lost out because
investors in its casino cartel included several prominent members of
Blagojevich’s political fundraising apparatus.
In winning the license, Midwest Gaming will pay its $125
million bid once the casino opens, and an additional $300 million over the 30
years it will hold the license. Its bid was less than half the $435 million
Trilliant Gaming bid for a license to build a casino in
Like Rosemont, Des Plaines
O’Hare International Airport, which will enable the casino to attract customers
with time to fill between flights.
The selection did not
please the officials from the outer suburban cities of Elgin and Aurora, who
see the Des Plaines casino siphoning off business from their riverboat casinos
(especially from conventioneers and trade show attendees at the downtown
McCormick Place), once travelers from inside Chicago have a closer venue.
Des Plaines, Midwest Gaming win last Illinois casino license
February 1, 2009