Illinois Boosts Gambling Sector with New Casino LaunchShare This Tags
Governor JB Pritzker recently took part in the celebrations for the opening of Southern Illinois’ 14th casino, the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, located near Carterville, represents a significant milestone in the state’s rapidly growing gambling industry.
The completion of this $147 million project is the result of years of dedication and effort from Cynde Bunch and her late husband, David. Their vision has transformed their family’s land into a luxurious resort that offers various entertainment options. With 650 slot machines and table games, a hotel, restaurants, a spa, and a 1,200-seat event center, Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort aims to provide an exciting gaming experience and boost the region’s economy.
The opening of Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort is a notable example of Illinois’ recent gambling expansion. Thanks to the 2019 gambling expansion law, a significant initiative during Governor Pritzker’s first term, the state’s gambling industry has experienced substantial growth. The law authorized the construction of six new casinos, including the one in Carterville, as well as four “racinos.” It also expanded online and retail sports betting and video gambling.
Governor Pritzker’s vision for a thriving gambling industry in Illinois has become a reality. The state’s land-based casinos, including the newly opened Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, have already attracted visitors from near and far. In the past month alone, nearly 150,000 people visited the state’s 13 casinos, with the three most recent establishments accounting for an impressive 15.6% of the total visitors.
This recent expansion in gambling is the most significant change to Illinois’ casino industry since the legalization of riverboat gambling in 1990. Initially, the law required riverboat casinos to sail during gambling sessions. However, subsequent legislation in 1999 allowed the boats to remain docked, and most eventually stopped moving altogether.
With the success of land-based casinos and the increasing popularity of online and retail sports betting, there is no sign of Illinois’ gambling industry slowing down. In fact, two more land-based casinos are scheduled to open in the coming years, further solidifying the state’s position as a top gambling destination.
While the industry has experienced remarkable growth, it has faced its share of challenges. Plans for two racetrack-casino combinations have been abandoned despite initial approval. Nevertheless, there is still hope that projects in Collinsville in the Metro East and Cicero near Chicago will come to fruition.
The economic impact of this gambling expansion reaches far and wide. Illinois’ casinos have contributed millions of dollars in taxes on admissions and gambling revenue, with a significant portion allocated to the state’s Rebuild Illinois program. This ambitious initiative aims to improve infrastructure by repairing and constructing roads, bridges, and government buildings throughout the state.
The Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort alone is projected to contribute $25.3 million in one-time fees to the Rebuild Illinois fund. This financial support will greatly contribute to transforming the state’s infrastructure and creating a better future for all Illinois residents.
Looking ahead, the gambling landscape in Illinois continues to evolve. The Illinois Gaming Board has been granted the authority to issue up to 10 new casino permits, effectively doubling the number of potential licensees. Furthermore, a sixth casino is set to open in 2025 in the south suburban Chicago villages of Homewood and East Hazel Crest, near the Indiana border.
Amidst the excitement surrounding the opening of the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort and the broader expansion of Illinois’ gambling industry, it is crucial to remember the underlying purpose: to stimulate economic growth and job creation. These developments not only offer entertainment and leisure options for visitors but also contribute to the overall prosperity of the state.
As the ribbon was cut at the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, it became clear that Illinois’ gambling industry has entered a new era. With the promise of more casinos, racinos, and expanded gaming options on the horizon, the state is poised to become an even more vibrant and dynamic player in the world of gambling. The future looks bright for both the industry and the state’s economy.