Rockford casino

Pixabay

Friday afternoon was the deadline for casino operators for submit their proposals to the City of Rockford. It received three different proposals. 

One proposal is by Hard Rock International. The company wants to build the casino at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort near I-90.  The second is by Gorman and Company, a firm that wants to build next to an Embassy Suites downtown.  The Register Star confirms both companies delivered their proposals Friday afternoon. 

City of Rockford

Friday is the City of Rockford’s deadline for accepting proposals to build a casino.

The casino license is one of six approved by the state’s gambling expansion. Hard Rock International and Gorman and Company have both expressed interest, but Mayor Tom McNamara says it ultimately comes down to what is submitted.

“They’re due at the city at 2 o’clock," he said. "We’re eagerly anticipating casino applications to be delivered.”

Rockford Park District

Hard Rock International has pledged several philanthropic initiatives to the Rockford Park District if the company secures a casino license in the city. 

The district has been searching for alternative sources of funds due to declining property tax revenue. Hard Rock approached them several weeks ago about public investment. Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine proposed several music-related projects. These include an outdoor amphitheater and a music production studio at a community center. 

Susan Stephens

The City of Rockford has a new casino in the works, and officials will soon evaluate possible sites and construction plans.

State government is granting six new casino licenses as part of the gambling expansion bill signed in May.  One of these is for Rockford, and city government is currently accepting proposals. Mayor Tom McNamara says the proposals include details such as where the casino will be built, and how it will run.

"SPORTS BETS" BY FLICKR USER THOMAS SCHLOSSER / (CC x 2.0)

Legalized sports betting will soon come to Illinois as part of the state's new gambling expansion law.

Sports wagering is nothing new. But in the U.S., the practice has generally been illegal outside of a few specific venues. That changed last year when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. It allows states to legalize sports betting.

In Illinois, there are several companies eager to enter the market. But casinos lobbied hard against allowing them unfettered access. State Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford) explains.

Chase Cavanaugh

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill at the end of June that allows six new casinos and legalizes sports betting. Rockford is the site of one such casino, and it could significantly contribute to local and state revenue.

A comprehensive gambling bill has been a repeated priority in the state legislature for several years. One of its biggest supporters has been Republican State Sen. Dave Syverson. He says a major concern is gambling dollars being lost to surrounding states. 

Chase Cavanaugh

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker visited Rockford Monday morning to mark the start of the process toward building a new casino in the area.

Organizers handed out playing cards and poker chips that read "J.B. Bet On Us" and "Our Governor Is Aces." A bill he signed last week allows for 6 new casinos statewide, mostly in cities near the Illinois border. Pritzker said casino revenue is a key component of his capital plan:

Chase Cavanaugh

Rockford is moving ahead with its plans to build a casino after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an expanded gambling bill into law Friday.

Mayor Tom McNamara says the city has 120 days from the bill’s signing to submit applications for the casino’s location and operator to the Illinois Gaming Board.  McNamara says the city is working to get its Request for Proposals out by July 4th.

“If we can get it out by Monday, that would be even more spectacular. But it’s a tight timeframe," he said. "A lot of work needs to go into this, obviously, because you’ve got one shot at this.”

Guy Stephens

Rockford’s mayor sent an open letter to Chicago’s mayor-elect asking her to join a push to add casinos in both their cities.

The letter to Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot was published as a full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times newspapers. It was signed by Mayor Tom McNamara and Rockford Chamber President Einar Forsman. McNamara said the two cities -- and other Illinois border cities -- have a lot in common. That includes wanting to tap into money that now goes to casinos out-of-state.

The Cunningham Group

Rockford area officials have sought a casino for decades as a way to help deal with economic problems. And even with a casino looking to open just over the border in Wisconsin, they still feel that way. In this Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Guy Stephens looks at the area’s casino craving.

State Sen. Dave Syverson has been pushing for a Rockford casino for years. The Rockford Republican says casinos were started in Illinois to keep money from leaving the state, and that continues to be a big issue. 

Rockford Casino Could Get Caught Up In Larger Battle

May 28, 2015
flickr user Ian Murphy "Solar Casino Night (3)" (CC BY 2.0)

Illinois would get five new casinos under Sen. Terry Link's latest proposal. They'd go to Chicago, Danville, Rockford, Lake County and the south suburbs. It could also add so-called "satellite" casinos in places like Decatur.

As with previous proposals, horse race tracks would get be able to get slot machines.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been open to new casinos. But he's upset that Democrats are killing off his pro-business agenda. Link acknowledges, his effort could get trapped in that feud.

Brian Mackey

An Illinois state representative says gambling expansion is more likely to pass the legislature this month.

That’s after the state Supreme Court struck down a plan last week that deals with Illinois’ $100 billion dollar pension debt.

State Representative Bob Rita says more casinos in Illinois - including Rockford and Chicago - could help raise some much-needed money.

“I would believe now that revenue is more of a need today than it was last week. Here is an area that we could generate revenue, it’s just a matter of how do we get there.”

There's A Good Bet Casinos Will Be On The Table Again

Apr 14, 2015
ilga.gov

The possibility of five more Illinois casinos is expected to return this year. 

Supporters of a gambling package say Illinois' need for revenue -- coupled with a governor who appears open to the concept -- have them excited about its chances. 

The package would add casinos in Chicago, the south suburbs, Lake County, Danville and Rockford as well as permitting slot machines at horse race tracks.

State Sen. Terry Link, D-Waukegan, has tried, and tried, to bring more casinos to Illinois.

Lawmaker Restarts Gambling Expansion Talks

Oct 24, 2013
ilga.gov

A Chicago-area legislator is trying to re-start negotiations over a big expansion of gambling.

Gambling was a big issue earlier this year, but negotiations fell apart in May, at the end of the spring legislative session. Since then, attention has moved to other issues, like the state's underfunded pension systems, according to  Rep. Bob Rita, D-Blue Island, and nothing has happened on gaming expansion.

So he held a hearing in which people with an interest in gambling could say where they stand. He acknowledges that little has changed since the spring.

Larry Morrissey

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey has outlined his plan for dividing revenues for a proposed casino. Morrissey wants the city to keep 70 percent of revenues, with the remaining 30 percent going to the Rockford Metropolitan Agency for Planning.  State lawmakers are debating a gambling expansion plan that includes a Rockford casino. Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen calls the proposal "one-sided."

ilga.gov

For the third time in two years, the Illinois Senate has approved a measure that would allow five new casinos, including one in Rockford.

The difference this time is that Governor Pat Quinn might finally be willing to support the proposal.

The sponsor,Terry Link, D-Waukegan, says he's tried to meet the governor's demands, such as banning campaign donations by gambling license holders. Link also removed a provision that would have allowed online gambling.

EasyPickle / Flickr

A new gambling expansion plan is moving to the full Illinois Senate, just days after Governor Pat Quinn vetoed a similar plan.

ilga.gov

Lawmakers quickly proposed another plan to add a casino in Rockford and four other locations.  Governor Pat Quinn this week vetoed a gambling expansion plan would have added several new casinos and placed slot machines at horse race tracks. Quinn called the expansion "excessive."

Quinn Vetos Gambling Expansion

Mar 4, 2013

Legislation to expand gambling the General Assembly approved nearly two years ago is finally dead.  Gov. Pat Quinn vetoed a measure that would have given Illinois five new casinos.

When Quinn gives his annual budget address Wednesday, he's expected to highlight Illinois' plethora of financial problems.

That frustrates supporters of gambling expansion, who say more casinos would be like hitting the jackpot.

Quinn Mum on Gambling Expansion

Jan 16, 2013

Governor Pat Quinn refuses to be pinned down on what he'll do with legislation that expands gambling in Illinois -- creating five new casinos in cities like Chicago ... Rockford ... and Danville. Gov. Quinn will once again have the opportunity to approve or veto gambling legislation. But unlike past bills, this time it's take-it-or-leave-it -- the legislature won't have the chance to override a potential veto.

Rockford is one step closer to a casino

May 23, 2012
worldcasinodirectory.com

The Illinois House, in a 69 to 47 vote, has passed a gambling expansion bill that would create new casinos -- including one in Rockford -- and allow slot machines at the state's racetracks.

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, says it will bring Illinois money it needs as the state faces steep budget cuts. Lang says that, as the budget process progresses, it’s clear the state isn't doing well enough.

“We haven't created enough jobs. We don't have enough revenue," he said. "Is this a panacea for all of our ills? Of course not.  Can it be step to build a better economy? Absolutely it can."