Penn Entertainment Breaks Ground On New Inland Casino In Aurora, Illinois

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on December 6, 2023
Neon Casino Sign Palm Trees At Night

PENN Entertainment, Inc. held a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 29 for the future Hollywood Casino Aurora. The company invited numerous stakeholders to the Illinois casino opening ceremony, including:

  • Members of the Illinois Gaming Board
  • Illinois General Assembly
  • Mayor of Aurora and the City Council
  • Labor organizations

Once completed, the new land-based casino, hotel and entertainment venue will replace PENN’s riverboat casino. Hollywood Casino will be placed near I-88 and Farnsworth Avenue, near the Chicago Premium Outlets.

The building of the $360 million casino project is expected to last two years. In the meantime, the existing Hollywood Casino riverboat in downtown Aurora will remain open.

Greg Moore, vice president and general manager of Hollywood Casino Aurora, commented in a PENN Entertainment press release:

“We look forward to celebrating this important milestone with our team members and many key stakeholders that have helped bring us to this point. This is an exciting start to our next chapter, and we cannot wait to welcome residents and visitors of Chicagoland to the new Hollywood Casino Aurora when completed.”

$360 million Illinois casino project is now closer to reality

The $360 million casino destination is next to the Chicago Premium Outlets shopping center, attracting over eight million visitors annually.

As previously announced, the new casino will feature at least 900 slot machines and 50 table games. Additional amenities will feature:

  • Around 1,200 gaming positions
  • Approximately 220 guest rooms
  • A retail sportsbook
  • Outdoor entertainment area
  • Full-service spa
  • High-quality bars and restaurants
  • Nearly 12,000 square foot event center with meeting areas
  • About 1,700 parking spaces

Moreover, the company plans to create 700 construction jobs and 700 permanent jobs at the new facility. That’s almost double the company’s current team members in Aurora.

Jay Snowden, CEO and president of PENN Entertainment, said: “We are thrilled to soon begin construction on a new, state-of-the-art Hollywood Casino Aurora.

Our tremendous and long-lasting partnership with the City of Aurora has provided an opportunity to relocate our property to an ideal location that will significantly improve our offerings and further our positive economic impact on the community.”

The project is part of PENN’s $500 million investment plan that also includes projects in:

  • Joliet, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Henderson, Nevada

Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. dedicated up to $575 million towards the overall $850 million budget for all four growth projects.

City commissioners had concerns about casino causing traffic in Aurora

During a public hearing in June, the Aurora Planning and Zoning Commission approved a rezoning request.

Commissioner Nancy Martinez expressed concerns about how busy the intersection would become once the casino in Aurora moves to land. In particular, Martinez wanted to know what would happen to the junction of Church and Molitor roads.

According to the Daily Herald, the casino plan instructs workers to enter the site from Church while visitors would access it from Farnsworth.

Commissioner Yvonne Owusu-Safo also asked about the effect on traffic. She wondered if the city was working with the Illinois Tollway regarding the casino’s impact on the entrance and exit ramps for I-88.

As Chicago’s Daily Herald reported, the city engineer said streets would be upgraded to include right-turn lanes. And that there was even a chance the intersection could qualify for a traffic light.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina Vojvodic is a lead writer for PlayUSA who lives in Toronto. Vojvodic provides coverage of the US gambling industry with a focus on US online casinos. Previously, she covered Ontario’s online gambling industry for Vojvodic holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Belgrade. Outside working hours, she can be found near the water with her husband and their two kids.

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