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CHICAGO-Horseshoe Gaming Holding Corp. chairman Roger Wagner is among those keeping on eye on where Illinois’ 10th casino license ends up. However, the chairman of the southwest suburban Tinley Park-based company that owns a casino in Hammond, IN also is watching Illinois’ gubernatorial and legislative races.

The results of all of the moves figure into an equation Horseshoe Gaming will use to determine whether to pour more money into its Hammond, IN property, Wagner says in a recent conference call. The company is on track to spend $12.5 million on capital improvements in 2002.

With dockside gambling legal in Indiana as of Aug. 1, the company was inclined to embark on expansion. “I think we’ll know in 60 to 90 days what the pent-up demand will be for dockside gambling,” Wagner says.

However, south suburban Calumet City has emerged as a player in the 10th casino game, and a victory there could be harmful to Wagner’s casino as well as his competitors east of the state line. “We are anxiously awaiting to learn where the 10th license ends up,” says Wagner, suggesting far north suburban Waukegan as a prime location if northwest suburban Rosemont is ruled out a second time. A license in Calumet City, Wagner suggests, would “cannibalize” business not only from Indiana boats, but two in Joliet as well.

Wagner also believes a Democratic governor and Democrat-controlled legislature might be inclined to add a few more licenses to the mix above the current cap of 10. The state is operating in the red, and could look to gaming licenses as well as additional taxes to help balance its books, he reasons.

“If two, three or four more licenses come into the market, we don’t want to be putting a lot of money into it,” Wagner says.

Meanwhile, Argosy Gaming Co. is spending $7 million to add 68,000 sf of gaming and restaurant space at its Joliet casino.

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