DANVILLE — Golden Nugget Danville Casino developers presented the city on Wednesday with the first $1 million check as part of the Host Community Agreement during a sneak preview of the casino given to media and other invited guests.
About 25 people including Danville City Council aldermen toured the inside of the casino located off Lynch Road at 204 Eastgate Drive.
The check presentation was for the city’s riverfront development.
When Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. first walked through the doors of the casino, Danville Development President Jimmy Wilmot asked him “What do you think?”
“Jimmy, this is incredible,” Williams said, taking it all in.
Invitees got to see the main gaming floor where there are slot machine bases waiting for the slot machines and other gaming areas waiting for the tables.
Wires hung from the ceiling and guests had to walk around ladders, among other items on the floor.
Wilmot conducted a tour showing the sports betting terminals, sports bar and cafe areas to the right, talking about the back rooms for security and other areas, and the Saltgrass Steakhouse to the left and bathrooms and self-service beverage areas on both sides of the casino.
He also talked about how the casino has a lot of light coming into it through the windows and its openness, unlike most dark, windowless casinos of the past.
Wilmot said they’ve been having good luck in finding employees so far. They’ve had about 40-50 dealers at the first dealer school and hope to have that many at a second dealer school. The goal is to have about 100 dealers when they first open. This is in addition to others and for food and beverage.
When it came time for the check presentation, Wilmot said he told his dad that they were giving away $1 million of the family’s money. He said his dad said, “Oh, it’s that day.”
As part of Danville Development’s Host Community Agreement that the city approved in 2020, developers Wilmorite Construction and the Wilmot family, now working with Golden Nugget as part of Danville Development, committed $3 million in one-time donations to: Danville Riverfront Improvement Project, the Boys and Girls Club of Danville for a teen center addition and Danville Municipal Project to address city buildings.
“We have been working with all organizations to make sure that as their plans need funding, we are there to provide our commitment. We will continue to do so and fund accordingly,” Wilmot said.
Danville Development also made annual commitments to: United Way – $100,000; Vermilion Advantage – $50,000; Fischer Theatre – $50,000; Danville Area Community College for scholarships – $50,000; and Public Safety and Municipal Service Payments – $50,000 for police and firefighter training and needs.
Wilmot says these payments will be made after they open the casino’s doors to the public.
Williams said Phase 1 of the riverfront development is under design. For this phase, the city is trying to make it for easy public access. A couple scenic overlooks will be developed at the top of the river behind the David S. Palmer Arena and at the bottom, the uncompleted boardwalk area will be finished. Switchback stairs are planned for both sides of the boardwalk, to make a loop at the riverfront.
“I’m pretty excited about that. It’s simple but I think it’s something that people will love and enjoy,” Williams said.
He hopes they will have the designs by this summer and start work before fall.
The Boys and Girls Club also is working on a design for the building’s northside addition for a center for teens. Officials are working with the city in conjunction with Garfield Park improvement plans.
Wilmorite also is paying $600,000 for the city’s portion of the sanitary sewer expansion project in the Lynch Road area to expand capacity north of the interstate, and a percentage, 4 or 8 percent based on certain thresholds, of the casino’s Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization to the city. Eight percent could be upwards of $6 million.
Wilmot said they’ll continue with the casino construction progress to hopefully open in the next couple of months.
They have a primarily finished casino floor which is one of the first turnover spaces for the operations team. During the next several weeks there will be slot machines and tables going in. Some security cameras and a few lighting fixtures remain to be put in overhead.
“At that point we start testing everything on the floor and start turning over other spaces. Soon thereafter we’ll be turning over back of house spaces. We’ll be starting the kitchens and firing them up and ... getting all our fire code numbers and approvals. Really the last step is getting through all the licensing requirements with the IGB (Illinois Gaming Board). We have 300 employees. Every one of them have some degree of licensing. So, we’ll continue to work with them. We’ve been happy with the partnership we’ve had with the Illinois Gaming Board. As soon as they give us the sign off and all these things come together with employment and final construction, we’ll open our doors.”
“So far so good,” he said about hiring with the gaming, food and beverage areas.
An opening date for the casino hasn’t been set.
They wanted to have the check presentation and sneak preview before the slot machines and table games showed up. After that it will then be secured and surveilled and required by IGB to have their people on site.
The city also is ready to start on the riverfront project, Wilmot added. Eventually that project will connect into Ellsworth Park and with the Kickapoo Rail Trail.
The Danville Golden Nugget casino gaming floor will feature up to 500 traditional and the latest video technology slot machines. Table games will include 14 Las Vegas-style games including Mini-Baccarat, Blackjack, 3-Card Poker, Craps, Mississippi Stud, Roulette and Ultimate Texas Hold ‘Em. There also will be the Sportsbook, online gaming and digital sports betting.
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