In anticipation of its licensure as part of Illinois’ recent casino and gaming expansion, Hawthorne Race Course has hired Kevin Kline as its new CEO of gaming. The 110-year old family-owned and operated business applied to the Illinois Gaming Board for a casino gaming license on August 26th before a 60-day deadline established by the new gaming law which was signed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker at the end of June. The Gaming Board is expected to rule on the application before the end of the year.
“The integration of casino-style gaming at Illinois race tracks is a tremendous opportunity that comes with unique challenges and responsibilities,” said Tim Carey, CEO and president of Hawthorne Casino & Race Course. “Our goal is to develop one of the nation’s premiere gaming experiences and an all-star executive team will be crucial. Kevin has a proven track record of successful ground-up developments of new casinos and multi-property management including at race tracks, plus direct experience with gaming in the Chicagoland market. We’re very excited for the Gaming Board to know Kevin as part of our team.”
Kline has significant experience in developing and operating large-scale, multi-faceted casino and entertainment businesses. He was most recently the chief operating officer and general manager of Resorts World Catskills Casino and Monticello Raceway for Empire Resorts in New York. Prior to that role he led the opening of the casino market in Ohio on behalf of Caesars Entertainment with the $450 million development and operations of Horseshoe Cincinnati with additional oversight of Turfway Park, another historic thoroughbred race track. Kline also oversaw the $500 million redevelopment of Horseshoe Casino Hammond in Northwest Indiana in 2008.
“Casinos thrive when they place customer service, integrity and excitement at the forefront of the business,” said Kline. “Hawthorne has championed these core values for over a century and undoubtedly that’s what has sustained their business and reputation in spite of a lack of casino-style gaming. That’s a true testament to the Carey Family’s commitment to the Illinois racing industry. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of that legacy now.”
As part of its application for a casino license, Hawthorne is planning a $450 million redevelopment of its 113-acre property on the edge of Chicago in suburban Stickney, Ill. The development will also include a hotel, food hall, sports book and entertainment theater.