ROCKFORD (WREX) — It's been a year and a half since the City of Rockford and Hard Rock submitted an application for a casino to the Illinois Gaming Board, or IGB.
On Wednesday, the board took a crucial step.
The IGB approved a Casino Supplier License to 815 Beltway Holdings, LLC., the owner of the temporary and permanent casino locations.
That means once construction plans are approved for the temporary site at Giovanni's, construction can begin. But that doesn't mean gambling at the temporary location is approved.
The future of a casino in Rockford has been, and continues to be, a waiting game
"We wish it would've been done sooner, but this is the initial phase, it's an important step," Republican Senator Dave Syverson says.
The IGB's approval of the license moves the project that much closer to reality.
"This is a huge win for our community and our region, and the City of Rockford was really thrilled to be part of it and help deliver it to our region," Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara adds.
Now, the construction plans for the temporary casino at Giovanni's must be submitted to both the City of Rockford and the Illinois Gaming Board.
"I think you'll see that in the coming days," McNamara says.
And both the city and the IGB need to approve those plans separately as well.
Syverson adds, prior to opening the temporary casino, the IGB will need to do on-site inspections before giving the greenlight to gamble.
"We don't know how long that's going to take," Syverson says.
Hard Rock's timeline is a little more clear.
"Hard Rock has been pretty consistent that they're going to need 90 to 120 days to get that temporary site, when they're allowed to start construction, up and running," McNamara reminds.
Syverson guesses gambling will begin "sometime in the fall."
And as far as how much money the temporary casino could bring in while the permanent casino is being built, the mayor says "several million dollars."
As for when the permanent casino could be a reality, McNamara says we're looking at two to three years.
It's a dream in the making, one step at a time.
Syverson says once the temporary construction plans have been approved, the construction plans for the permanent casino will be submitted. Those will also need to be approved by both the City of Rockford and the IGB separately.