Penn Entertainment Replacing IL Riverboat Casinos With Land-Based Locations

Written By J.R. Duren on October 12, 2022
IL riverboat casinos will be replaced with land-side locations in Penn Entertainment construction

Penn Entertainment announced this week it will spend around $545 million to build two new casinos in Illinois.

“We are delighted to announce these exciting new growth projects, which we expect will generate strong free cash flow returns and create long-term value for our shareholders,” Penn Entertainment CEO and President Jay Snowden said in a press release about the projects.  Our casino properties remain at the core of our omni-channel approach to entertainment, which combines best-in-class retail operations.”

The two new casinos will replace riverboat casinos in Joliet and Aurora. Snowden said the replacements coincide with a change to Illinois law that allows permits for “land-side relocation of riverboat casinos.”

Aurora casino will replace Hollywood Casino Aurora

Penn’s new casino-hotel property in Joliet will be built next to Chicago Premium Outlets off of I-88. The new property will feature:

  • Around 900 slots and 50 live table games
  • A Barstool sportsbook
  • 200 hotel rooms
  • Full-service spa
  • “High-quality” bars and restaurants
  • Around 10,000 square feet of meeting areas
  • An events center

While the new casino will have fewer slots than the Hollywood Casino Aurora property it’s replacing, it will have around twice the table games.

The project will cost an estimated $360 million, although the city will cover up to $50 million in costs through bonds. Construction should start in late 2023, pending city and regulatory approval.

Joliet casino will be a part of Rock Run Crossings

Penn’s new Joliet resort-casino will be a part of a development that will act as a gateway to Chicagoland. Dubbed “Rock Run Crossings,” it will be located in the I-55 corridor and feature retailers, restaurants, and a 70,000-square-foot Regal movie theater.

The Penn casino will arguably be the capstone of the Rock Run development. Its specs are similar to its sister property in Aurora:

  • Around 800 slots and 50 live table games
  • A Barstool sportsbook
  • “High-quality” bars and restaurants
  • Around 10,000 square feet of meeting areas
  • An events center

Like the Aurora property, Penn plans to start construction in late 2023, pending regulatory approval.

Snowden said the two Illinois projects will boost the brand, and the Joliet and Aurora areas.

“These two projects will significantly improve our offerings in the highly attractive Chicagoland market while creating hundreds of new full-time jobs for the local communities,” he said.

Illinois projects part of $850 million updates

Penn’s plans in Illinois are part of its larger initiative to update properties across the country.

The company is spending around $206 million to update M Resort in Henderson, Nevada. Penn announced it will spend $100 million to expand its Hollywood Columbus casino. The project includes building a hotel that will create around 100 permanent new jobs.

In total, Penn plans to spend $850 million on the four projects. Snowden said outside funding will cover up to $625 million of that price tag.

Photo by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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