Construction is officially underway on one of the newest Illinois casinos, the Hard Rock Casino in Rockford, Illinois. City officials and Hard Rock representatives gathered Wednesday a year after opening the temporary Rockford Casino: A Hard Rock Opening Act.
Should everything go according to plan, the new state-of-the-art casino will open in late 2023.
Illinois casinos as economic generators
The new facility is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs in both the construction and casino job sectors.
The casino resort will include:
- 65,000 square foot casino with 1,500 slot machines, a sportsbook, 60 table games and a poker room with 10-12 tables
- Hard Rock Cafe, Council Oak Steakhouse, and an Asian cuisine restaurant called YouYu
- 23,500 square foot conference venue with up to 1,600 seats
- 250-room hotel
“It’s a $300 plus million project — more than 180 thousand square feet. You have a casino, table games, slots, multiple restaurants, Hard Rock live venue,” said Hard Rock Casino Rockford President Geno Iafrate.
Speaking with 23News, Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said the company is taking steps to become a part of the local community.
“Just last week Hard Rock approved a more than three dollar increase in the minimum wage, voluntarily for all of their non-tipped employees. It shows that they’re not only a wonderful community partner, but they’re also really working to be one of the best employees in town.”
McNamara said the new facility would generate revenue for the city government through taxes and bring revenue to local businesses. Additionally, a portion of casino revenue will go to the Northern Illinois University Rockford Promise Scholarship Program. The scholarship is dedicated to offering free college tuition to students in Rockford public schools.
Upon opening its temporary casino, Hard Rock presented the scholarship program with a $25,000 check. In doing so, the casino operator helped pay the tuition for 250 students to attend Northern Illinois University (NIU). Of the 250 attendees, 70% of those students were minorities, and 63% were first-generation college students.
“They have truly followed through on every single promise that they’ve made and they’ve reached every promise, and then they’ve exceeded them. And I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise, but it certainly brings a smile to my face,” McNamara said.