DANVILLE – The Illinois Gaming Board has invited casino developers to their Thursday, March 10 meeting to make a presentation about their application for a casino license.
Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. announced the gaming board’s plans on Friday, February 25. A gaming board spokesperson confirmed the plans on Tuesday, March 2.
Policy director Joe Miller says the panel will consider a preliminary suitability determination for Danville Development LLC, the lead developer for the casino project. The agenda for the meeting will be posted at the gaming board’s website, at least 48 hours in advance. Approval of the casino project’s suitability would allow construction to begin immediately. Mayor Williams says an actual state gaming license will not be issued until after the casino opens.
“What that would mean for Danville is within 45 to 60 days, you would likely be having a groundbreaking,” said Williams of the hoped-for suitability finding. “So we could be meeting as soon as April, the end of April to do that. And from there, we would likely have a casino open, the early part of 2023.”
Danville casino developers had once hoped to have their project open and running about now. Instead, the Illinois Gaming Board has taken more than a year to finish looking at their application, which was submitted after a 2019 application from a different development team was withdrawn in July of 2020.
Williams says the casino to be built in Danville’s Eastgate Industrial Park will operate under the Golden Nugget brand, and include 500 slot machines, fourteen table games, two restaurants (one of them a Saltgrass Steak House) and a platform for online gaming and sports betting.
Both Saltgrass Steak House and Golden Nugget are part of Fertitta Entertainment, headed by Houston billionaire Tillman Fertitta. Wilmorite Management is co-managing the project with Golden Nugget. Wilmorite would be responsible for operating the casino.
“Wilmorite has operated casinos in three different states, and Golden Nugget operates five different casinos in four states,” said Williams. “They’re world class and world renowned. So we’re excited, because we think they will bring a world-class product here to Danville.”
Current plans for the Danville casino project are smaller than what was proposed in 2019 by the earlier development team, which included Haven Gaming LLC. The plans involving Wilmorite and Golden Nugget now envision expanding the project in later phases once the initial casino is operating profitably. Future phases could include more gaming positions and a hotel and conference center.
(Updated on 3/2/22 to include Gaming Board confirmation of the preliminary suitability meeting – JM)