MGM May Be Done With Its Illinois Casino, But It Isn’t Done With Illinois

Written By Bart Shirley on August 7, 2018 - Last Updated on January 27, 2023
MGM lion in front of MGM Grand

MGM Resorts International has finally completed its sale of the Grand Victoria Casino. Eldorado Resorts is now the proud owner of the Elgin, Illinois property.

To purchase the property, Eldorado Resorts paid MGM and its partner $327.5 million in cash. MGM’s 50 percent share netted the gaming giant $162 million.

MGM acquired its stake in the Grand Victoria Casino by virtue of its 2005 merger with Mandalay Resort Group.

The Grand Victoria Casino fits better with its new owner’s roster

The Grand Victoria Casino is one of Illinois’s ten riverboat casinos. Stationed on the Fox River, it is a smaller property that nominally serves the Chicago area.

The casino only maintains 1,100 cash slots and a selection of table games. The property also has live poker and four restaurants.

Despite its size, the casino does well. Its revenue figures consistently place the casino as the third-largest location in the state.

This distinction is all the more remarkable considering the casino’s location. Elgin is a 45-minute drive from Chicago, and inhabitants of that city have several options nearer to the city center.

Still, the casino didn’t match the opulent character so many associate with MGM. The property felt out of place for the same company that owns the BellagioMGM Grand, and Mandalay Bay.

By contrast, Eldorado’s portfolio is explicitly filled with non-Las Vegas properties. Most of its casinos are smaller regional enterprises.

MGM’s Boyd partnership rendered Grand Victoria moot

MGM’s agreement to sell the property is strange, however, due to MGM’s recent push for sports betting in as many areas as it can. Selling Grand Victoria Casino, therefore, is quite odd.

Illinois is one of several states that is considering the legalization of sports betting. At first glance, it would appear that this deal would place MGM on the outside of the ability to seek an Illinois license.

However, MGM’s recent access deal with Boyd Gaming addresses that issue. By virtue of the agreement with Boyd, MGM will be able to pursue sports betting through Boyd’s Par-A-Dice Hotel Casino in East Peoria, Illinois.

The deal with Boyd will ultimately result in MGM spreading to 15 US states. Although not all of these states have sports betting yet, it is likely that they will in the next five years.

MGM’s has also bolstered its sports betting dreams through new partnerships with GVC Holdings and the NBA. In the case of the former, MGM now has a strategic partner who can help to bring both retail and online sports betting offerings to the market. In the case of the latter, MGM now finds a measure of legitimacy to both its sports betting activities and sports betting as an accepted institution in general.

Photo by ARTYOORAN /

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Bart Shirley

Bart Shirley is the managing editor of evergreen content for PlayUSA. He’s been writing and reporting on the gambling industry since 2013. Prior to working for PlayUSA, Shirley was a feature writer for QuadJacks, a site covering issues in poker. He also writes for BonusCodePoker, a poker satire site that lampoons the lighter side of card games. Shirley is a graduate of the MBA program at Texas Christian University’s Neeley School of Business and has a degree in English from Texas A&M University. He grew up in Houston, TX, and lives in Katy, just west of Houston. Shirley is also a former high school teacher. He is married, has one daughter, and practices Brazilian jiu jitsu in his spare time.

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