Danville is still betting on Haven Gaming for the city’s casino license.
As soon as the Illinois Gaming Board’s agenda became public Tuesday morning for its Thursday meeting, Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. and Haven Gaming LLC were finalizing statements about what it meant for Haven to withdraw its initial Danville casino license application.
On the agenda for the 10 a.m. teleconference IGB meeting under casinos is a request to “Withdraw Owners License Application” by Haven Gaming, LLC.
In response, Haven Gaming and Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. on Tuesday issued statements.
Through an email to local media, Williams said “As promised, I am updating you regarding the status of the Danville Casino Application. Please see the attached press releases from Haven Gaming, LLC and the City of Danville regarding this matter.”
From Haven Gaming, LLC in response to withdrawal of gaming application:
ROCHESTER, NY – July 28, 2020 – “Haven Gaming, LLC has withdrawn the Owners Gaming License Application filed on October 28, 2019. The reason for this action is simply to prepare and submit a new application that is more suitable for the project and more accurately meets the expectations of the gaming board. Haven Gaming is committed to Danville and this project and plans to formulate a new application that is better aligned to meet the standards of the community and all deciding parties. We have reassessed the original application and have found areas for improvement and are eager to resubmit a solid application this August.”
From Williams in response to withdrawal of the gaming application by Haven Gaming, LLC:
“Haven Gaming has made the city aware of its plans to withdraw its original application. This is a great opportunity for Danville to have a chance to review the new application by Haven Gaming LLC. I agree with the strategy and look forward to having the best possible application before the Illinois Gaming Board. In my experience with Haven Gaming management team, I have seen a consistent level of professionalism and industry knowledge. I believe that they have the community’s best interest in mind.
“The city of Danville is proud of our Casino Selection Committee and the process we used to select Haven Gaming, LLC. This committee was formed to carefully vet all Danville casino applicants and chaired by me to ensure the integrity of the process. This group is made up of our public works chairman, police chief, corporation counsel, economic development CEO, and several successful business people from our community. I have reviewed and support the updated plan and ask that Haven come before our city council to have their plan ratified for a third time on August 18, 2020.”
Williams said the city doesn’t have to reopen the application process to any interested developer/operating partner.
“We will not be reopening the process as it is the same company simply resubmitting an updated application,” he said.
He said the application changes include primarily partnership, ownership, and operator information.
Williams doesn’t know how the timeline changes with the application resubmittal and the IGB review process.
“I imagine it will continue to be a slower process as it has been thus far,” he said.
The IGB earlier this year, with a 3-1 vote, didn’t allow Haven to amend its casino license application regarding changes with owners and key persons. A board member said he didn’t consider it even a “bare bones” application and thought it was more of a placeholder than a complete application.
The Danville City Council, based on the local casino committee’s recommendation, selected Haven Gaming LLC as the city’s casino operating partner in October 2019.
Haven Gaming Attorney Scott Sypolt, who could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, said last month they are still confident in getting the job done.
“The bottom line is we are the best position group to get Danville what they want as quickly as possible,” Sypolt said.
A gaming bill amendment from May allowed the IGB to extend the Danville casino application period for six months if a license isn’t granted.
Williams at that time said his understanding is that legislators wanted to ensure that if the gaming board hadn’t issued any licenses by October, as had been required, that it still will in the near future.
The lGB started meeting in June again, via teleconference, after meetings earlier this year did not occur due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the gambling expansion bill enacted last year, lawmakers authorized six additional land-based casinos, including one in Danville.