Beloit Casino Progress Puts Pressure on Illinois Lawmakers

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After years of talks, a City of Beloit casino is finally close to becoming reality.  Tuesday night, leaders of the city and the Ho-Chunk Nation met with the community to talk next steps.  The advancement of the mult-miillion dollar project helps create a bit more sense of competition in Springfield.  Rockford-area legislators hope residents see the battle for a Rockford casino isn’t over yet.

“We’re going to be drawing not only from the Madison area, Milwaukee, Illinois as well,” said City of Beloit Manager Lori Curtis Luther. 

The city will be doing so for jobs and spending.  Tuesday night, a public forum was held to discuss the progress of a Ho-Chunk casino coming to the City of Beloit.  “This project could very well be $500-million dollars in investments,” said Curtis Luther.  “The ongoing revenue sharing with our City, with Rock County, that’s additional revenue that with levy limits in Wisconsin, were really constrained, and that direct positive economic impact for us, could be a game changer.”

The plan still needs to get approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Governor-elect Tony Evers.

“Most people come up and they ask when its going to happen,” said Ho-Chunk Nation Business Director David Greendeer.  “They’re very excited to bring more economic development to the are and region also just excited to see job creation and everything else in the area.”

The project will be more than a casino off the I-90/39 tollway.  It’ll offer a host of attractions, from a hotel, to conference and entertainment venue.  Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson (R-35th) says Rockford’s bid for a casino is now falling behind.  “They lose people from going up there, and gaming up there,” said Sen. Syverson.  “All the other venues that they’re going to draw most of their people from Northern Illinois, will have a significant effect.”

Illinois State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-34) believes politics have hindered movement on a gaming expansion bill in Springfield.  He adds the Supreme Court ruling on sports betting could help move the process along, come the spring session.   “It ups the ante,” said Sen. Stadelman. “I think we need to make sure that we have options here whether its shopping, retail, gaming, recreational, where people can spend their entertainment dollars here in the Rockford area.”

Both Rockford-area Senators say they’re optimistic about success of gaming expansion bill during the upcoming Spring session.

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