The lastest round in a controversy over the location of a casino in Rosemont, IL, not far from O’Hare International Airport, may come to some kind of conclusion when the Illinois Gaming Board meets shortly after Labor Day. The board may decide in favor of the gaming interests that want to develop a casino in Rosemont, but because of litigation, that won’t be the end of the matter.

Rosemont is currently trying to seize this opportunity because of thefailure of a casino in western Illinois in JoDaviess County. That casino,the Silver Eagle, found that it couldn’t compete once Iowa liberalized itsgambling laws in 1994. It eventually closed in 1997. Since then, the ownersof the Silver Eagle, headed by former Waste Management official DonaldFlynn, and his son, Kevin Flynn, have been maneuvering to move the licensefor the casino to Rosemont.

Emerald Casino Inc. (formerly HP Inc.) would need permission from theIllinois Gaming Board to move the casino. The village of Rosemont agreed topay more that $15.6 million in the last couple of years in order to acquirean aging industrial park that makes up most of the site for the proposedcasino.Emerald would then lease about three acres from the village for its casinoin a 35-acre site bounded by Bryn Mawr Ave. on the north, the Tri-StateTollway on the west, Balmoral on the south and a village parking garage onthe east. The gambling facility would be a barge in a moat.

The $160 million project would include a 40,000-sf gaming floor with about977 slot machines and 58 table games. The barge would total over 150,000-sf,including a restaurant, sports bar and entertainment lounge. Some estimatethat the casino could rake in almost $290 million in its first year ofoperation.

What¡Çs holding up the creation of the casino is a lawsuit from a rival groupthat would like to obtain the license held by the Silver Eagle. Lake CountyRiverboat LP wants to bring casino gambling to Lake County in the Chaino¡ÇLakes area near the County’s border with McHenry County. MichaelDockterman, a partner, with Wildman, Harrold Allen & Dixon, is a lawyerrepresenting the Lake County group. He told that his clients havedemographics that prove their casino would be a greater draw than evenRosemont. About 10 million people live within a 50-mile radius of thelocation, which conceivably would bring in gamblers from Wisconsin. Thecreation of the casino could boost the local economy and infrastructure aswell.

Lake County Riverboat contends that Illinois’ gambling law isunconstitutional because it was phrased so as to hand Emerald Casino theright to renew its old license and relocate. Since it effectively singledout one company for a benefit, the law is special legislation in violationof the current state constitution.

The Illinois Gaming Board has yet to decide who will get the casino license.According to Jim Carroll of Quinlan & Crisham, a law firm representing theVillage of Rosemont, the Board could still legally rule on the license,regardless of whether the lawsuit is still pending. Reportedly, the GamingBoard is still researching the mandatory background checks on theapproximate 50 investor-owners involved in Emerald Casino. The next gamingboard meeting is scheduled for Sept. 14-15.

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