If Danville officials hope to see a casino in the city, they better energize their efforts — and fast — to persuade the Illinois General Assembly to approve the idea. If they continue to wait — the idea of expanded gambling in Illinois has been debated for years in Springfield — all bets could be off.
Two — count them, two — companies hope to construct a casino in Terre Haute, Ind., just 50 miles or so from Danville down Indiana Route 63. If Indiana's legislature approves the move, such a development would rob most of the potential customers from a Danville site. And the Hoosier developers know that.
Full House Resorts, which owns Rising Sun Casino and Resort in Rising Sun., Ind., plans to propose a satellite casino for Terre Haute. A second company, Spectacle Entertainment, plans to acquire two existing casino licenses in Gary, Ind., and possibly move one of those to Terre Haute. The latter group includes a Terre Haute businessman who plans to push hard for the move.
“Their (Spectacle Entertainment) proposal supports our thesis that Terre Haute is a prime location to allocate the state’s unused gaming resources,” said Alex Stolyar, senior vice president and chief development officer with Full House, to CNHI News Indiana. “We look forward for an opportunity to compete with all interested operators to present the best proposal for Terre Haute and for Indiana.”
A casino brings more than short-term construction jobs and a steady flow of gamblers to a community. It allows a city to show off its other assets — such as natural recreation areas — that, in turn, attract even more tourists to help boost the local economy.
The proliferation and success of video gaming terminals in Illinois might have damped the enthusiasm for a casino in Danville, but the idea remains alive in the legislature. Officials in Rockford also want consideration for a casino to combat development in nearby Wisconsin and others hope to see a casino somewhere on Chicago's southeast side. The combination of the interest generated by those two proposals, along with Danville's longtime hopes of a casino opening here, could create the best opportunity to see those hopes become reality in several years.
The three Illinois state senators and the three state representatives who represents parts of Vermilion County, aided by other local officials, need to go all in now on the idea of a casino for Danville. Waiting could mean big losses at the gaming tables.