Three casino proposals being reviewed

Rickey Williams Jr.

DANVILLE – Extending the deadline for casino proposals resulted in one more proposal, and selection of the casino operating partner is expected to be announced at the Sept. 3 Danville City Council meeting.

Due to the extended proposal deadline other dates in the proposed timeline for a casino application to be submitted to the Illinois Gaming Board were adjusted as such: solidify community benefits/determine land use approval process by Sept. 10, community presentation also Sept. 10 and preparation of application/market study and entitlement process/zoning approval process from Sept . 10 through around Oct. 14, approval of zoning by mid-October and submit application Oct. 21 before the Oct. 28 state deadline.

Officials also must agree on a temporary location if one is to occur.

Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. said he was very happy to report the city received a third casino application.

The steering committee will now go through the three proposals and how they meet the criteria set out and determine what location would be best.

Williams is chair of the eight-member committee which includes Vermilion Advantage, city and business representatives.

According to Williams, they will not release all the casino proposals, only the recommended one.

Earlier this week at the Danville City Council meeting, Williams commented on the casino proposal deadline after Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols asked about it.

Williams said the two initial applicants were to submit revised applications, in addition to the third applicant to the solicitation of interest.

Citizens continue to debate where the casino should be located.

Williams said the casino is projected to result in about $6 million in tax revenue its first year in 2022 and $7 million in revenue by 2026.

“I don’t care where it’s located as long as you people get what you deserve,” he said of taxpayers.

One of the interested development groups consists of former bankers Craig and Kim Campbell and they think the committee needs to rethink the Southgate casino location, and they believe less than a 40-acre site is feasible.

Craig Campbell said he’s not talked to anyone who doesn’t want to fully explore having a casino downtown and breathe life back into the city.

Campbell said his group has four different ideas, but its preference was using a small footprint and building up from the riverfront area.

Ward 7 Alderman Steve Foster said he supports the downtown for a casino, and had lots of questions on the Campbells’ past bank failure.

The city council also earlier this month heard from Downtown Danville Inc. representative Amy Lamb about a casino downtown creating hope and support for downtown building and business owners.

She said a downtown casino would help anchor the downtown and not compete with the arena and Fischer Theatre.

“Working together, downtown Danville could become a true arts and entertainment district,” she said.

Resident and former downtown attorney Pam Howell said those going to a casino along Interstate 74 won’t know they are in Danville, Illinois, and won’t visit downtown and the city’s businesses.

“This may be our one and only opportunity to come back,” Howell said. “If there’s a casino that wants to come to this town, let them locate wherever they want to locate.”

Williams has said riverfront casino concerns involve the flood plain area and limited land space.

Danville Area Community College President Stephen Nacco said he supports the Southgate and Interstate 74/Lynch Road location.

“You are not going to generate (the revenue) by burying it in the middle of the city. You need it in a place where the interstate is prominent. Put it where it belongs,” he said.

Nacco added DACC will support whoever is developing the casino in providing training and whatever else is needed.

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