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Illinois casino plan pledges $90m boost to community


Churchill Downs incorporated and Rush Street Gaming boasted that their bid for a casino in Waukegan, Illinois could generate $5m more for the city and local communities than the five rival casino bids from other operators on the same site.

The claims were made as the companies outlined the details of their bid at a Waukegan City Council Special Meeting.

The CDI/Rush Street proposal is for a 1,625-gaming position casino that they claim will create 1,200 permanent jobs. The proposal would also include a sportsbook and poker room. In addition, CDI and Rush Street said they planned to donate 2% of pre-tax revenues to local charities chosen by municipal leaders, which they expect to initially total around $1m per year. Churchill Downs and Rush Street also claimed that their casino will generate $282 million in gross revenue by the fifth year of operation.

“Over the next 50 years as we grow, it’s projected that Rivers Casino Waukegan will provide over $90 million in charitable contributions to local communities which can be dedicated to public schools and educational causes,” Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming, said.

“By our third year in operation, we project $11 million in annual tax revenue for local host communities—the most of any of the bidders,” he continued. “The city of Waukegan will benefit from an additional $2m in annual admissions taxes as well. Based on our superior performance, as we grow, the tax payments to local communities will increase significantly from these initial levels.”

Bluhm added that Rush Street’s history with working with local and diverse companies is a further reason why he believed the city should accept his company’s bid.

“We’re especially proud of our record of hiring a diverse local workforce. At Des Plaines, 60 percent of our employees are minorities as well as a third of our executives,” Bluhm said. “We spend over $40 million a year with local Illinois businesses and over the past four years we’ve spent $37 million with minority- and women-owned businesses and disadvantaged business enterprises.”

The CDI/Rush Street bid is one of six proposals for a casino in the Northern suburb of Chicago close to the Wisconsin border. The other proposals are from Full House Resorts, Lakeside Casino LLC, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, Waukegan Development Associates LLC and Waukegan Gaming LLC, which signed a Redevelopment Agreement with the city in 2004 to build a casino which was eventually nixed and has argued that the city is “obligated” to support its bid because of the deal.

CDI and Rush Street already jointly own and operate Rivers Casino Des Plaines, the largest casino in Illinois, 40 miles from Waukegan, which Bill Carstanjen, chief executive of Churchill Downs Incorporated said was one example of the experience the companies could bring to the new facility.

“Churchill Downs Incorporated and Rush Street gaming are licensed and approved by regulators in 40 jurisdictions, including the Illinois Gaming Board, and we have unmatched experience in running successful casino and entertainment venues,” Carstanjen said.

“We are proud to partner with Rush Street Gaming to bring our shared vision for a world-class entertainment destination to Waukegan and there is no doubt we will be the city’s best and most successful partner.”