BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers gave the green light for a casino in Beloit on Tuesday. In the next step, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has to approve the land into a trust.
Ho-Chunk Nation’s casino and resort location has caused some stir on the Illinois side of the border. A local senator says he hopes this next step in the Beloit casino’s development is a wake-up call to the Illinois Gaming Board for final approval in Rockford.
“This is one of the things I tried warning the state about all the way back to 2017,” said Sen. Dave Syverson, IL (R) 35th District.
The $405 million gaming and family destination right off of I-90 will include a casino, hotel, convention center, and waterpark. Beloit’s City Manager Lori Curtis Luther says it will boost their economy.
“Those revenues are going to be really significant, and again bringing additional stability to the local economy and helping us plan for the future,” said Curtis Luther.
Sen. Syverson says this creates competition for Rockford’s slow-moving Hard Rock Casino development.
“I’m hoping this will be a wake-up call for the state,” Sen. Syverson said. “The competition is going to be one that, historically, would be a real problem for us.”
Construction crews will break ground near the southeast corner of Willowbrook and Colley Roads for the Beloit casino–20 miles down the road from the Hard Rock Casino plot.
“If Wisconsin beats us to the punch and gets opened people are going to get used to going to a casino like that, and then it makes it tougher bring them back home,” Sen. Syverson said.
Syverson says he is unsure what is causing the holdup for the final approval from the state.
“We gave them 12 months to get application approved, which normally would take 3 to 4 months, but we gave them 12 months that was 18 months ago,” Sen. Syverson said.
“We warned if they didn’t expedite or if they didn’t approve those applications that this was going to be a possibility, and now here we are Beloit has the go-ahead and they’re going to start and we’re continuing to wait.”
We did speak with a Hard Rock representative for an update on the project. They say they’re waiting for the final approval to finish construction on the casino.
The Illinois Gaming Board has not responded for comment. THey have a board meeting scheduled for April 21st.