Gambling on New Year’s Eve along with a sit-down dinner looks like a distinct possibility for people in the Waukegan area.
Plans continue for a December opening of a newly built interim casino structure adjacent to the Fountain Square Shopping Center in Waukegan providing table games, slot machines, a variety of dining options and a sportsbook.
Alex Stolyar, the senior vice president and chief development officer for American Place owner Full House Resorts, said with the temporary structure now complete, the Turner Construction Co. can focus on completing the foundation and interior.
“They’re connecting utilities and pouring the concrete floor,” he said of the 75,000-square-foot building. “They’re getting it up so we can bring in the gaming equipment.”
Stolyar said he anticipates 700 people will be working in the temporary facility when it opens in December. A number of individuals are already hired, but he declined to disclose a specific number. When a firm opening date is set, hiring will accelerate, he said.
After the Illinois Gaming Board gave Full House a finding of preliminary suitability to proceed toward its license last December, Stolyar said he hoped the temporary casino could open this summer, but a variety of situations slowed the process.
“There were complications as we went through the approval process,” he said. “We had supply chain issues like everybody else in the casino business and it is taking longer than expected.”
Though the city of Waukegan has been supportive throughout the process since the gaming board gave Full House the green light, things normal to the casino industry — like operating 24 hours a day seven days a week — needed approval.
Along with 50 table games and 1,000 slot machines, Stolyar said there will be three sit-down restaurants, other food options and a large bar. The sportsbook will offer far more than placing a bet on a favorite team.
Partnering with Full House and operating the sportsbook is Las Vegas-based Circa Sports. Derek Stevens, the company’s CEO, said he looks forward to opening the company’s first wagering facility in Illinois. It will be the only one in Lake County.
Stevens said technology has transformed sports betting in the last five years. Individuals can place a wager in real time on a cellular telephone while sitting at a blackjack table or a bar, while others do the same thing simultaneously.
“Before you had to go to a betting window to place your bet with other people in line,” he said. “Now you don’t have to run to a window. You place your bet on your phone.”
Using a phone, gamblers can place a bet on the score at the end of an inning of a baseball game, a quarter in football game or basketball, and each period in a hockey game. That does not include betting on auto or horse racing while sitting at the American Place bar with a phone in hand.
“Player prop bets are very popular,” Stevens said referring to wagers which do not depend on the outcome of the game itself. “You can focus on how an individual (athlete) will perform. This has really increased interest by the consumer.”
Under Illinois law, people can place bets not only on American sports but contests all over the world, like English Premier League soccer, the Korean baseball league, lacrosse or professional darts, according to the gaming board.
Once the temporary casino opens in December, Stolyar said planning will begin for the permanent facility. He anticipates it will take between two and three years to complete. When it opens, there will be significantly more table games and slot machines.