Some may have thought that the Waukegan casino issues have been long dead and buried, but a recent ruling of the state appellate court could bring a new life to the matter. The court’s decision could bring a once-rejected bidder back into the game – a move that could eventually see the north suburban casino selection process being reshuffled, although the Full House Resorts has already been up and running at a temporary gambling location for almost six months now.
Late last week, the First District Appellate Court of the state of Illinois sided with the Forest County Potawatomi Community in the tribe’s long-running court battle with the city of Waukegan. The Native American nation has been claiming that city officials unfairly cut the tribe’s prospects in 2019 while considering some operators’ casino bids that were eventually forwarded to the state gambling regulatory bodies for final approval.
Now, the appellate court overturned the decision of a Cook County Circuit Court judge who dismissed the Potawatomi tribe’s lawsuit as they found no legal ground for the litigation after Full House Resorts received an early license approval from the Illinois Gaming Board in 2021. As a result, the ruling of the appellate court has now sent the Potawatomi tribe’s case back to the lower court, unless the matter is taken to the state’s Supreme Court by Waukegan’s legal representatives.
For the time being, Waukegan city officials did not comment on the matter. A spokesperson for the state’s gambling regulator also refused to make commentary on the pending litigation.
Full House Resorts Could Face Difficulties as a Result of Renewed Litigation
The renewal of the selection process could lead to some hurtful effects for Full House Resorts, which in February 2023 started accepting bets at The Temporary by American Place while a $400-million permanent casino is being built and scheduled for completion in early 2026.
Official data provided by the Illinois Gaming Board claims that gamblers have made over 280,000 trips to The Temporary casino since the venue’s opening earlier this year, with the facility accounting for adjusted gross revenue of more than $30 million through the end of June.
As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, the Potawatomi tribe has claimed that the approval process was prejudiced, with another bid being supported by former state Senator Michael Bond.
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a massive gambling expansion into law back in 2019. As a result of the expansion, the Waukegan and several other casino licenses were unveiled, but local communities were required to provide their approval on the proposed bids before the state’s gambling watchdog granted them final approval.
The legal representatives of the Potawatomi tribe claim that former Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham basically ordered the Waukegan City Council which bids to approve. At the time, the city ended up selecting three casino projects to forward to the gaming board for further consideration – the Bond-backed project, the project of Full House resorts, and another bid by the Chicago casino mogul Neil Bluhm, who later decided to exit the competition.
The Potawatomi tribe took the city of Waukegan and then the gaming board to court in an effort to block the Illinois Gaming Board from issuing the controversial license. Although the gambling regulator delayed its own selection, it eventually ended up choosing Full House Resorts as its preferred candidate to establish a casino in Waukegan.