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Illinois Gaming Board explains delay in Rockford casino license application

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 11:24 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - In its monthly meeting, the Illinois Gaming Board discussed the reasons why approval for casino licenses in several cities, including Rockford, is delayed.

Citing delays caused by governmental office closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, IGB officials announce a six-month extension to the board’s review of applications.

“COVID-19 made certain routine IGB activities, such as applicant and key person interviews to site visit fingerprint analysis and obtaining official tax documents and other records from state, local, and federal agencies, difficult, and at times impossible. But life and work proceed. All the often, under less than ideal circumstances. We are mindful of the statutory process and the timeline. We are equally mindful of the board’s foremost responsibility to safeguard the integrity and safety of Illinois gaming, and we are mindful of our absolute obligation to assure a new casino license application process that is independent, ethical, fair, transparent and compliant with the law,” said administrator Marcus Fruchter.

This comes a day after the year deadline imposed by the Gaming Board to approve or deny any petition. Other casinos proposals from south suburban Chicago, Williamson County and Waukegan were also extended.

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara says the announcement of a delay is disappointing for the region’s growth.

“I understand that all the applicants for new casino licenses were advised late Tuesday by the Illinois Gaming Board that it may be another 6 months before a preliminary suitability determination will be made. I am very disappointed. I hope it won’t be another 6 months before we have the determination, especially since we submitted only one applicant unlike other communities that have multiple. We believe Hard Rock is working diligently with the IGB to move this process forward. At the City, we too are committed to doing what we can to get this done as expeditiously as possible. I would love to see construction on the temporary casino start soon, but since that is not allowed, we will continue to wait on this project, which will bring much-needed jobs and revenue to the community,” said McNamara.

In response, Hard Rock Casino Rockford released a statement:

“We understand the complexity of work to be done by the Illinois Gaming Board in thoroughly reviewing the application and the delays COVID-19 has added to the process. The Hard Rock Casino Rockford team continues to comply with all requests for information, and we are hopeful and excited to continue moving forward,” said spokesperson Pam Maher.

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