Walker’s Bluff Casino Begins Welcoming Southern Illinois Guests

Written By Derek Helling on August 31, 2023
symbols from playing cards surround the walker's bluff casino logo

Although it’s not the preferred definition of bluff in the casino’s name, people in southern Illinois can now call each other’s bluffs at card games and the like with real money on the line. Walker’s Bluff Casino in Carterville, Illinois, is now open to the public.

As most of Illinois’ resort-style casinos are concentrated farther north, Walker’s Bluff signals an opportunity for residents to potentially cut down on their travel. The casino’s opening also means another facet of Illinois’ most recent gaming expansion is complete.

Walker’s Bluff brings an Elite experience to southern Illinois

With the opening of Walker’s Bluff, Illinois’ contingent of brick-and-mortar, commercial casinos now stand at 15. Carterville lies in the southeastern part of Illinois, not far from the Kentucky border. The town is also close to Carbondale, a city of more than 20,000 that is home to Southern Illinois University.

According to the casino’s website, the resort offers all the amenities you would expect. A hotel offering more than 100 rooms complements multiple dining options. Those include:

  • 22 & Vine
  • Draft Day Sports Lounge
  • Ruthie’s Steak & Seafood
  • The Lounge

Additionally, the casino boasts live entertainment and an event center. While at this time there is no confirmation about an in-house sportsbook, the gaming opportunities consist of 650 slots and 14 gaming tables.

Elite Casino Resorts operates the casino. Elite also operates two casinos in Iowa plus individual locations in both Nebraska and South Dakota. While Elite has offered online sports betting in Iowa in the past, it has since contracted with Betfred to handle those operations and shuttered its in-house brand.

To date, Elite has not confirmed whether it plans to do the same in Illinois. Its licensure affords it the opportunity to do so. For the time being, Elite might choose to focus on building out its footprint for in-person gaming in southern Illinois.

Southern Illinois moves to catch up with other parts of the state

Among the 15 casinos in Illinois, 11 of them exist in the northern half of the state. It’s understandable as the population density in that part of the state is far greater. With Walker’s Bluff’s opening, however, the odds are evened somewhat.

As a result, the economic opportunity that locals hope the casino will afford, according to Marsha Heller of KFVS12, is now in the cards for Carterville.

Carterville sits about two hours from Alton and East St. Louis and an hour away from Metropolis, where existing casinos lie. Thus, essentially all Illinoisans now have at least one casino within an hour’s drive.

It’s been a busy year as the intent of the Illinois legislature in a 2019 gaming expansion law becomes reality. The temporary casino in Waukegan opened in February while work is underway to complete a new facility for the Hollywood Casino in Aurora.

Furthermore, a temporary casino in Chicago could be just days away from opening its doors, pending regulatory approval. Because of Walker’s Bluff’s opening, residents of southern Illinois no longer have to travel to such places for casino gaming.

Photo by PlayUSA
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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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