Illinois Casino License Could Be Up For Reconsideration

Written By Derek Helling on August 3, 2023
egg rolls on a plate symbolizing how construction on a casino in waukegan, illinois may encounter obstacles

Construction is ongoing in Waukegan, Illinois, regarding the forthcoming American Place Casino. A temporary facility has been open for almost six months as that development ensues. However, a related recent development could change the trajectory of these events.

An Illinois court just revived a lawsuit pertaining to the license for the casino. While that doesn’t yet mean the city will have to start from scratch when it comes to deciding on a recipient for the license, the court’s decision points toward that being a possibility.

Appeals court remands dispute back to trial judge

One of the bidders that was not selected by Waukegan’s leadership to develop a casino has received a favorable decision from an appeals court in Illinois. The result of the ruling is that it will get its day in court to argue that Waukegan’s selection process was biased.

According to Mitchell Armentrout of the Chicago Sun-Times, the decision came down Friday from Illinois’ First District Appellate Court. The plaintiff in the action, the Forest County Potawatomi Community, had its complaint dismissed by a lower court last year.

The lawsuit alleged that Waukegan carried out a sham process that was rigged in Full House Resorts’ favor. As relief, the Forest County Potawatomi Community wants the court to compel Waukegan to reopen the bidding process and conduct it fairly.

There is no guarantee the court will grant that relief. However, the appellate court’s decision suggests in its opinion that the Forest County Potawatomi Community has a legitimate chance of success in proving its claims. Exactly what that would mean for Full House and American Place is uncertain currently.

Could the court hold up the progress on American Place?

While the district court is now bound to take up the case, the end result could effectively be the same. The court could rule that Waukegan acted properly in selecting Full House Resorts. Naturally, appeals could ensue from that point.

Should the trial court rule in favor of the plaintiffs, that wouldn’t necessarily mean Full House Resorts’ license would be in jeopardy. All that would mean is that Waukegan would have to reconsider the license applications.

That process could end with the selection of Full House Resorts the second time through. The only outcome that could potentially disrupt the status quo is if the court rules in favor of the Forest County Potawatomi Community and Waukegan’s leadership selects a different partner.

That, in turn, could prompt legal action by Full House Resorts. At that point, it would have invested millions of dollars in Waukegan with little to show for the expense. In the meantime, it could carry on with the casino construction.

There’s another wild card to consider here as well. Waukegan could appeal the reversal of the dismissal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Should the Supreme Court take up the case, it could further delay an ultimate resolution.

By the time that this dispute is over, the permanent American Place Casino could be nearly ready to open. If that’s the case, Waukegan would be hard-pressed to essentially revoke the casino’s license.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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