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Casino Bids Hampered By Economy

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Nov 24, 2008 9:50PM

While companies are putting together bids for Des Plaines, Rosemont and Waukegan for the state's final casino license, they're finding themselves hampered by the struggling economy. Bill Eadington, director of a gambling institute at the University of Nevada-Reno, recently told the Trib, "It's very bad timing for Illinois. We're facing the biggest economic recession in 75 years. I wouldn't be surprised if the companies that made bids a couple months ago could no longer justify them." Casino giants like Harrah's are having to scale back or scrap plans for new casinos altogether.

The finalists are Trilliant Gaming, a Los Angeles-based venture that has teamed up with Rosemont and submitted the high bid of $435 million. The next highest offer is $225 million from Waukegan Gaming. A distant third at $100 million is Midwest Gaming & Entertainment, billionaire developer Neil Bluhm's group, who wants to open in Des Plaines. Those figures don't include the cost of building the casino, which could be in the hundreds of millions, making it tougher to turn a profit.

"I would say that the Rosemont bid is so high against the rest that you wonder how they are going to get there, but at the same time I know the Des Plaines bid is much lower than last time around," said state Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), referring to when the license was last up for bid in 2004.

The Illinois Gaming Board hopes to make a decision by the end of the year.