Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Winnebago County Board supports I-90 casino site

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD – The Winnebago County Board, on Thursday, passed a resolution that gives its blessing a casino to be built near I-90. 

The county is the third public entity to get behind a plan for Rockford’s lone casino to be sited near the interstate. Loves Park, Machesney Park and the Rockford Park District have each given nods to the expected proposal by Hard Rock International to build a land-based gaming facility at 7801 E. State St., the site of the former Clock Tower Resort. 

Thursday’s vote was 14-5. Jas Bilch, R-20, introduced the resolution, and said he did so in response to a growing concern of constituents and neighboring officials about the casino’s location. The concern he said, comes down to money.

“We are trying to make sure we place this in the greatest revenue-generating location,” Bilich told reporters after the vote.

“No” votes came from Jean Crosby, R-16; Dave Kelley, R-9; Tim Nabors, D-14; Steve Shultz, R-3; and Dan Fellars, D-19. That group says it should be left up to the city to decide which proposal to submit to the Illinois Gaming Board. 

“We don’t want to tilt the scales toward any one location,” Fellars told reporters. “I don’t the know the right location for the county. All I know is that the county board has no business weighing in at this point.”

A Rockford could casino could add nearly 1,600 jobs to the area and yield between $6 million and $8 million in annual revenue. The city would share those dollars with Winnebago County, Loves Park and Machesney Park.

As of this report, no responses to the city’s request for proposal (RFP) have been submitted. Besides Hard Rock, a group led by Wisconsin’s Gorman & Company says it will submit a plan a downtown casino adjacent to the Embassy Suites being built in the Ziock Building.

Applicants have until Aug. 30 to submit proposals. The city’s deadline to sent its choice to the state is Oct. 25.


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