HomeIllinois Sports Betting NewsGrand Opening of South Side Chicago Casino Pushed Back to 2025

Grand Opening of South Side Chicago Casino Pushed Back to 2025

The Illinois General Assembly authorized a casino for Cook County back in 2019. The Illinois Gaming Board two years later selected Wind Creek - the casino development arm of the Alabama-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians - to build the $529 million Chicago Southland Casino facility.

Image: IMAGO / PanoramiC

Then a ceremonial groundbreaking took place in early June 2022, with promises of an opening sometime in 2023.

But the modest level of activity at the Illinois casino site suggested a delay was coming, and redevelopment agreements recently approved by Homewood and East Hazel Crest – the two towns where the casino will be located – indicated a projected opening date of Jan. 1, 2025. The agreements add that the latter date “may be extended/delayed by the developer.”

While the unexplained delays no doubt are disappointing to local residents, operators of the four casinos nearby in northwest Indiana aren’t complaining as they enjoy at least another 18 months without the extra competition.

Whenever it opens, the 70,000-square-foot Wind Creek Chicago Southland Casino is expected to include 1,350 slot machines; 56 table games; and a 252-room, 16-story luxury hotel. About 800 permanent jobs are expected to be created upon opening, with 600 construction jobs as part of the development.

The site is adjacent to Interstate 80/294 at Halsted Street, a little more than five miles from the Illinois/Indiana state line.

Sizing Up the Competition

The Wind Creek facility will be slightly smaller than the nearby Hard Rock Casino in Northern Indiana, but as large as the Ameristar Casino on Lake Michigan in East Chicago.

A portion of the tax revenue generated from the Wind Creek site will go to the Southland Public Benefit Fund, supporting health care services as well as college scholarships for needy local residents.

The delay means that Wind Creek likely will be both behind and ahead of the rival Bally’s Casino in Chicago. “Behind” in the sense that the temporary casino being built at the Medinah Temple site is expected to open as soon as next month.

“It’s done,”Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said earlier this week. “We’ve done our work and now the regulators are going in, making sure everything works the way they want it to work. The doors should be opening soon. It’s pretty exciting.”

But Wind Creek could come out “ahead” in the sense that the permanent Bally’s Casino at River West – a $1.7 billion behemoth at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street – isn’t likely to open until 2026. The temporary Bally’s casino will feature a modest 750 slots as well as 50 table games.

Who is Wind Creek?

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians became the only federally recognized tribe in Alabama back in 1984 – and its first “bingo palace” opened there a year later.

But the main growth period for the tribe came from 2009 to 2019. The first casino opened in Atmore, Ala., and was followed by others in Wetumpka and in Montgomery.

The tribe then became a partner in a casino in Nevada while taking over operations of casinos in Aruba, Curacao, and Bethlehem, Pa. – the latter previously being the Sands Bethlehem Resort & Casino.

Wind Creek was fined $20,000 by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in 2022 as the result of a patron who had signed up for a self-exclusion list designed to help problem gamblers nonetheless was able to gamble at table games at the Bethlehem casino on several visits in a period of four days.

The board also has expressed concern that Wind Creek officials discovered 147 separate incidents involving a total of 268 children who were left unattended in casino hotel rooms, in vehicles, and other locations on the casino grounds. The minors ranged in age from two months old to 17, with the length of being unattended ranging from just a few minutes to as long as nine hours.

In response, Wind Creek executives outlined a mitigation plan for the board that included heightened patrols throughout the venue as well as increased training for all staff.

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