Thirty years after Illinois passed legislation legalizing 10 casinos to operate throughout the state, Stickney, Ill.-based Hawthorne Race Course was preliminarily approved to become the jurisdiction’s next casino when the Illinois Gaming Board voted unanimously that Hawthorne’s ownership and key personnel are “suitable” for eventual casino licensure. 

Founded in 1891, Hawthorne is the longest running legal gambling business in the state and is Illinois’ oldest sporting venue, according to press materials.  In becoming a fully operational casino featuring slot machines, table games and sports betting, Hawthorne will transform Illinois horseracing by creating a dynamic entertainment experience for casino customers in the Chicagoland area.

“It’s really hard to put into context what this means for the very hardworking people of the Illinois racing industry,” said Tim Carey, president and CEO of Hawthorne Race Couse.  “It means horsemen will be able to keep their businesses and families in Illinois.  It means creating a truly unique, first-of-its-kind entertainment experience that won’t exist anywhere else in Illinois.”

In addition to slot machines and table games, Hawthorne’s casino plans include a state-of-the-art sportsbook to be developed in partnership with PointsBet; dining amenities showcasing well-known Chicago culinary experiences; a multi-level parking garage; and a new racing operation with upgraded wagering facilities. 

Major construction and renovation is expected to begin in September with plans for the casino to open in late 2021.