ROCKFORD — The Illinois Gaming Board is expected to announce a preliminary decision on Rockford’s pending casino license application some time in the next six months.
After that, the application would move on to other steps of the process including “assessment of the casino gaming operations, a final practice gaming session, licensure action by the board and then any different or additional licensing procedures required by statute or board rules,” Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said during a Thursday morning board meeting in Chicago.
“Based on the current information disclosed or known to the board and barring any unforeseen further disruptions or developments, we reasonably anticipate making a preliminary suitability determination regarding the single applicant licenses for Rockford and Williamson County within six months.”
The board must complete its investigation, Fruchter said, before it can make a finding in an application’s preliminary suitability, which must take place before the other steps toward receiving a license.
Rockford’s application is for a $310 million Hard Rock International casino at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort on East State Street and permission to open a temporary casino at Giovanni’s, less than a mile away on Bell School Road.
By law, the board has one year after receiving an application to either issue a new casino license or provide the applicant with a written explanation as to why it has not made a decision and when it expects to make that decision.
That written explanation was sent to all of the state’s nine pending applicants, including 815 Entertainment and Hard Rock Casino Rockford, on Tuesday, one day before the one-year mark, Fruchter said.
“Each applicant currently understands its current status,” he said.
Several applicants, including 815 Entertainment — a 53-member investment group, many of which are Rockford area business and civic leaders — submitted requests to amend their applications to provide additional information pertinent to the applications, which were approved by the gaming board on Thursday.
“Like all government agencies and private businesses, the board’s work has been impacted by COVID-19,” Fruchter said. “This is not an excuse or a crutch. It is simply a recognition of the reality that work and life are different in a global pandemic.
“While COVID-19 has presented many unprecedented challenges and obstacles for the gaming board and its staff and applicants alike, our work has nonetheless continued on the new casino applications just as our work has continued on all other aspects of the board’s regulatory responsibilities”
Hard Rock has agreed to pay the city $7 million a year in gaming tax revenue and fees once the casino is up and running.
Corina Curry: firstname.lastname@example.org; @corinacurry