Churchill Downs no longer seeking Waukegan permit

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Churchill Downs is apparently no longer interested in operating a casino in Waukegan. The company withdrew its licensing offer just hours after it was announced that its Arlington property would go to the Chicago Bears. The NFL team agreed to buy Arlington International Racecourse for just over $ 197 million.

The agreement ensures that a rival casino developer will not be able to offer services near their Rivers Casino facility in Des Plaines, Illinois. It was a smart move by Churchill Downs to sell to the Bears and now the move has circulated rumors that the company may be eyeing the Chicago area for casino games.

Leaving Waukegan

Wednesday afternoon, the managers of Churchill Downs told Illinois gambling regulators that the company was withdrawing its casino license application in Waukegan. The request was submitted almost two years ago in collaboration with Rush Street Gaming. The move has speculated a lot that the goal now is to come up with a venue in Chicago, however, this has not been confirmed.

Dennis Culloton, a spokesperson for Rush Street Gaming, said it was only a coincidence that the company withdrew its application the same day Churchill Downs announced the Bears were taking control of Arlington.

The request was filed when gambling expansion plans were approved in the state, adding six new casinos to the mix.

The Chicago push

The city of Chicago is hopeful that a plan will be put forward to bring a quality casino destination to the city. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was quick to say what she’d like to see and recently extended the deadline for submitting applications for the new casino.

Applications were expected in late August, but companies have shown little interest in competing for a license. The mayor has now extended the deadline to October 29. It appears that city requirements prevent operators from applying for a license.

Chicago wants to see a $ 1 billion investment from the licensee with a 500-room 5-star hotel created with a large rec room. Analysts believe there is little potential to expand traditional gaming in the region, and it would be a big risk for an operator to spend that much on a Chicago casino.

For now, it will be interesting to see if Churchill Downs or Rush Street Gaming toss a hat in the ring for a possible Chicago license. The stakes may be too high and Chicago officials will have to lower their expectations before any proposals start arriving.


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