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After years of planning, a casino opens in Danville

DANVILLE – The Golden Nugget Danville wasted little time in using a temporary operating permit issued by the Illinois Gaming Board.

Thirteen months after a groundbreaking ceremony, the new casino announced its opening to the public for the first time at 4:00 p.m. Saturday. Initially, the casino on Lynch Road in Danville’s Eastgate area will be open eight hours a day, closed on Tuesdays. A formal grand opening is planned at a later date.

“We are excited to take the next big step in the process, and open our casino to the over 21 public,” said Danville Development president Jimmy Wilmot, in a news release sent out Saturday morning announcing the opening. Wilmot’s family owns Wilmorite Management Group, one of the partners in the casino project.

“Please be patient and kind,” added a notice on the casino’s Facebook page. “Some of our team members may be a bit nervous.”

Saturday was the first day that the casino could be open to the public, under the permit issued the day before by Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter. 

Gaming Board spokesperson Beth Kaufman said the casino had passed an in-person inspection.

“Gaming Board officials were on site,” said Kaufman “and they went through a number of procedures that are required by law, which includes practice gaming sessions and other regulatory requirements that the casino must meet. And the Golden Nugget casino met those.”

Kaufman emphasized the revenue that Golden Nugget Danville is obliged to pay towards government infrastructure project, including a large payment up front.

“Within 30 days of their opening, the state will be receiving $25 million that will go to construction projects statewide,” Kaufman said.

Casino spokesperson Jo Green said that that casino held invitation-only tours of the casino for local officials during the past week. The casino’s Sawgrass Steakhouse opened to the public for dinner hours on May 12. 

Danville officials have been trying to get a casino to add jobs and tax revenue to their east-central Illinois city for at least a decade. In 2013, then-mayor Scott Eisenhauer was lobbying lawmakers to include Danville in a gambling expansion bill that included Chicago, its suburbs, and other downstate cities.

Danville’s casino plans evolved over the years. By 2021, they outlines pretty much the facility that opened on Saturday: a casino with table games, slot machines, sports betting hosted by a bar and grill, and the potential, if successful, to expand into a larger hotel and conference center in the future. 

The city of Danville has already received revenue from the just-opened casino. In March, casino managers delivered a $1 million check to the city, to be used for riverfront development. 

Yet, along with the benefits of jobs and revenue, the casino carries the risk of gambling addiction. Illinois law requires Golden Nugget Danville to post signs giving information on help for compulsive gamblers. Similar information is also posted on the casino’s website, listing danger signs of problem gambling, and offering a phone number to call for crisis counseling and referral services: 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537).

Wilmorite Management Group based in Rochester, New York, co-manages the casino through a local subsidiary, Danville Development, along with Houston-based Landry’s Inc., which owns the Golden Nugget and Sawgrass Steakhouse brands.  

Golden Nugget Danville continues to advertise for staff. Positions range from typical hospitality jobs such as cleaning and wait staff, to more specialized casino positions, such as table games dealer, cage cashier and slot attendant.

UPDATE: This article was revised to include additional information from a Golden Nugget Danville news release – JM 5/28/23

Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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