After more than two decades, the city of Beloit, Wisc., is finally going to get its long-awaited casino.
The Ho-Chunk Nation has been working on this proposal for years, and the final approval finally came this week.
Governor Tony Evers approved the final plans on Wednesday, and construction is expected to begin almost immediately. Beloit is right on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, and it’s important for this property to be built as quickly as possible.
Beloit residents already approved a new casino project, but that vote came 22 years ago. There was the belief that the vote would lead to immediate action, but that was not the case.
The Ho-Chunk Nation has also been waiting a long time to get approval of their plans, submitting an official proposal to acquire the 73 acres of land over seven years ago. The United States Department of the Interior gave its stamp of approval one year ago, leaving the final decision up to Evers.
Illinois has plans in the works for a new casino project in Rockford, which is just 17 miles away from Beloit. The state that is able to open a new casino first will have a decided advantage as they compete for customers in that area.
With the final blessing from Evers earlier this week, the Beloit project is now in the lead, angering residents and lawmakers in the state of Illinois. Governor JB Pritzker made it clear that he wanted to help Rockford gain an advantage, but that is no longer the case.
Hard Rock International has received preliminary approval for the new Rockford casino, but there hasn’t been any other action taken since that was issued. City leaders in Rockford have questioned the Illinois Gaming Board in recent weeks and will likely continue to do so moving forward.
The Potawatomi Hotel and Casino in Milwaukee is the largest casino in Wisconsin, and this new property in Beloit will fall just short of that. More than 2,000 construction jobs will be needed during the building, and there will be 1,500 new permanent jobs coming to the state.
The total cost of the casino project is over $400 million, and a 40,000 square foot water park will be included at the site. Mobile casinos and online casinos are not legal in Wisconsin, or Illinois yet. Although, Illinois has set plans in place to legalize it.
Illinois Leads in Sports Betting
The one decisive edge that Illinois will have over Wisconsin is that sports betting can also be offered at the new casino. Wisconsin has not legalized sports betting at this time, and there hasn’t been any new legislation introduced that would do so.
This will likely make the future Rockford location a more premiere destination, and that included Wisconsin residents as well. Traveling the extra 17 miles will be worth it for some bettors as two different forms of gambling will be available.
Rockford could still complete its casino project first as well, but Illinois is currently trailing in the race. This decision by Evers could get the ball rolling in Illinois, but the Illinois Gaming Board has been slow to react to anything gambling-related.