Rockford Casino Secures Preliminary Approval
The future casino in Rockford received preliminary approval from the Illinois Gaming Board this week, despite the ongoing investigation into one of the project’s investors.
Not long after the approval was granted, the gaming board’s chairman, Charles Schmadeke, announced his support for the $310 million Rockford plan and said that the investigation continued regardless the approval and that the board would take a close look on the list of investors.
Schmadeke admitted having some questions about particular individuals and their relationships but according to him those were just questions and not evidence. He said: “All of the evidence that I have seen that’s been produced to the gaming board does not show that there are any problems.”
He added: “As this matter proceeds, that evidence may or may not develop that some key persons may not have the fitness for this particular project. But we are not there today.”
The chairman refused to give any further information about the allegedly questionable relationship and he just said that if the Rockford bidders continued to cooperate with the board, all questions would be resolved.
The Fischer Saga
Businessman Dan Fischer of Naperville was the one who pitched the Rockford plan to the board last week. He described himself as the effort’s “managing member.”
Fischer’s company was involved in an investigation from 2018 but according to the gaming board lawyer, this could only lead to a disciplinary action that the board has not taken yet.
The Gaming Board has not made any statement on the matter yet and Fischer’s attorney said his client did nothing wrong.
Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said at the Thursday meeting, that the Rockford group promised to remove any investor who is not suitable for the project.
Fischer is not the only one of the investors in the future project. The others include the wife of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen and a former mayor of Rockford.
The plan for the new casino is part of the Illinois lawmaker and Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s approval for a massive gambling expansion that started in 2019. Pritzker’s hopes are that the expansion will generate additional income to the state government.
As part of the plan, six new casinos, including Rockford, are expected to launch. They will add to Illinois’ top 10 existing casino establishments.
The Rockford plan was endorsed last year by the city’s officials and now it is competing with two more project for the board’s final approval.
The preliminary vote was indeed an important step for it opened the door to the construction of the permanent facility in Rockford. According to the plan, the future site for the casino is the old Clock Tower Resort near Instate 90.
But there is still some way to go since the licenses has not been granted yet.
Things are looking good for the project though, since Schmadeke and other gaming officials expressed their approval for Rockford team’s effort to involve minorities in the project.
The chairman said: “I would like to see the benefits distributed throughout the community at all levels,” Schmadeke said. “I’m excited for the city of Rockford.”
Source: “Illinois official give preliminary ok for a Rockford casino”, Wbez, February 4, 2021