New casino opens in southern Illinois, sends $25 million to the state

Governor JB Pritzker, along with numerous attendees from southern Illinois, gathered on Friday to commemorate the inauguration of the 14th casino in the state, The Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort.

It now has become the fourth casino to open in recent years that was authorized by a 2019 gambling expansion law that was a centerpiece of Pritzker’s first term.

It features 650 slot machines and table games, a hotel, restaurants, a full-service spa, and a 1,200-seat event center. While concrete a number is yet to be defined, it is expected to employ 300+ people once it starts fully operating.

What it means for the state of Illinois

“Hospitality, jobs, economic development – that is what today’s announcement represents,” The state’s governor said. “When I proposed that we pass a casino gaming bill a few years ago, this is what I had envisioned.”

The 2019 law amending the Illinois Gambling Act authorized six new casinos, including the one in Carterville, four “racinos” (a combination horse racetracks and casinos) online and retail sports betting and expanded video gambling.

The development of the $147 million venture in southern Illinois has been a culmination of years of dedication. This undertaking was catalyzed by Cynde Bunch and her late spouse, David, who introduced a sophisticated restaurant and a well-stocked general store under the same name back in 2008.

This initiative found its roots on a plot of land that had remained within Cynde’s family for generations. While Elite Casino Resorts LLC stands as the primary proprietor and manager of the casino-resort, it’s noteworthy that Cynde also holds a partial ownership stake.

Why $25 million go immediately to the state?

A portion of the funds generated from the gambling expansion was designated to offer financial support to Rebuild Illinois, an extensive, multi-year capital enhancement initiative aimed at renovating and constructing new roadways, bridges, and governmental structures throughout the state.

As part of their obligations, every casino is obliged to remit one-time fees to the Rebuild Illinois fund within 30 days of their inauguration. The recently launched Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, for instance, is set to contribute $25.3 million to this cause, as reported by the Illinois Gaming Board.

The latest augmentation of the gambling sector marks the foremost substantial alteration to Illinois’ casino domain since 1990. This milestone year witnessed the legalization of riverboat gambling by the Illinois legislature, making the state only the second, following Iowa, to embrace this approach. Subsequently, several states situated along the Mississippi River adopted similar measures.

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