Illinois authorities marked the inauguration of the state’s newest gaming treasure, Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, located just outside the lively town of Carterville, with a significant ceremony. Walker’s Bluff represents an important chapter in the growth of Illinois’ gaming environment as the 14th casino to grace the state’s gaming industry since the inauguration of its first facility, Argosy Casino Alton, in 1991.
The spectacular Carterville casino is a tribute to the forward-thinking 2019 gaming expansion law, becoming the fourth casino to open in Illinois under its auspices. This legal step enabled the establishment of six new casinos, including the spectacular Carterville expansion, as well as inventive “racinos,” online and retail sports betting, and a thriving sector of expanded video gaming.
Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort is more than simply a casino; it’s a whole experience. The resort provides a comfortable stay with a hotel, tempting restaurants, a full-service spa, and a spacious 1,200-seat event center, boasting an astounding ensemble of 650 slot machines and table games. This enterprise is expected to benefit the local economy by providing work for around 300 people.
The rise of gaming has contributed to the broader Rebuild Illinois project, not only for amusement. The profits from this dramatic expansion will be used to fund the state’s ambitious capital improvement program. This initiative is committed to the rehabilitation and building of critical infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, as well as important government institutions.
With each casino’s launch, a one-time fee is mandated to be directed towards the Rebuild Illinois fund. Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort is set to contribute a substantial $25.3 million, as confirmed by the Illinois Gaming Board. This funding is poised to facilitate various projects across the southern Illinois region, exemplified by initiatives at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and John A. Logan College in Carterville.
The fruition of the $147 million casino project in Carterville is a testament to the tenacity of its visionaries. The late David Bunch and Cynde Bunch, his spouse, ignited the spark for this venture with an upscale restaurant and general store bearing the same name. Elite Casino Resorts LLC spearheads this dynamic project, with Cynde Bunch also holding a partial ownership stake.
Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort’s grand opening comes in the wake of several other gaming introductions across Illinois. The Hard Rock Casino in Rockford, American Place Casino in Waukegan, and the Golden Nugget in Danville have all marked significant milestones in the state’s gaming evolution.
Illinois’ gaming journey is far from over. The horizon promises the arrival of a $1.7 billion Bally’s development in Chicago’s River West neighborhood. Bally’s is poised to initiate operations in the Medinah Temple in Chicago by mid-September, leading up to its grand opening. Another casino is on the horizon, set to grace the south suburban Chicago villages of Homewood and East Hazel Crest near the Indiana border by 2025.
While the journey of “racinos” envisioned in the 2019 gambling law has yet to fully materialize, the vision remains alive. Plans for Collinsville’s Fan Duel and a Cicero firm’s casino addition still hold the potential to redefine the gaming landscape in the near future.
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