Casino Landscape Changing Fast With Temporary Operations In Waukegan, Soon In Chicago
The earliest form of recorded gambling took place about 5,000 years ago. Its chances of fading away is about the same as drawing a royal flush in every card game one plays or picking the right Roulette color 100 times in a row.
With last week’s opening of a temporary casino in Waukegan and in the near future a temporary operation in downtown Chicago, Des Plaines is even more squarely in the middle. The opening of permanent casinos in those two communities within the next two years as well as casinos in the south suburbs and Rockford is a reality that will require a huge amount of imagination and expense.
Since the 2011 opening of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines at River Road and Devon Avenue, the city has ended up with about $10 million annually in host community tax income. That money has been vital in the city’s long term program of upgrading its infrastructure and paying off debt. It has also helped maintain a healthy city General Fund. Money from that fund can be used for a variety of city expenses that include the purchase of downtown buildings earmarked for redevelopment.
Des Plaines Ald. Malcolm Chster (6th), who will end his eight years on city council in May, said this week that “there’s not much Des Plaines can do about the future” that involves new casino openings in the area. Chester works as a lobbyist for Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee. He has mentioned in the past that these new gambling operations will put strain on the existing casinos in the region because there will be many more places for the public to visit. An eventual $1.7 billion Bally’s Casino at the former Tribune printing plant in Chicago will, without question, lure gamblers away from Rivers. So, too, will the new Waukegan casino. How many is the question.
Said Chester, that’s why casinos will likely expand and offer more amenities than ever before. One idea that’s been mentioned since Rivers opened is the development of a new hotel on its property. Also speculated is that Rivers might lower its minimum betting requirements at Blackjack and other tables to attract more customers.
“A temporary casino for Bally’s at the Medinah Temple building along Ohio Street will bring in huge crowds,” Chester remarked. The property is surrounded by tall apartment buildings, thriving businesses and an abundance of parking. “It’s in the middle of everything.”
Other ways that have been mentioned for area casinos to compete effectively with what’s in store is to launch aggressive campaigns to attract high rollers. Ways of doing that is building a first class hotel; like a Four Seasons, and transporting customers from O’Hare Airport to Waukegan by helicopter.
Not to be forgotten is the possibility of placing video poker games at O’Hare and Midway airports. No applications for that have been filed yet. Also, there’s discussion about allowing gambling on the internet that would permit people to place bets while sitting on their living room sofa drinking a beer.
Chester added that at this moment Rivers Casino continues to do a landmark business not only with its slot machines and craps tables, but also with the addition of sports betting and the recent expansion of its 80,000 sq. ft. facility. What lies ahead is something everyone involved and interested in gambling is concerned about.,