Full House Resorts To Open Its ‘Temporary’ Casino In Illinois

The Temporary Waukegan Illinois casino

Full House Resorts has announced Friday night as the opening of its temporary casino in Illinois, aptly named The Temporary by American Place.

The Temporary is located in Waukegan, approximately 40 miles north of Chicago and less than 20 miles from the Wisconsin state line. Waukegan was one of six locations awarded a casino license in the 2019 gaming expansion bill that also legalized sports wagering in Illinois, and The Temporary will be the second venue to debut. Hard Rock in November 2021 launched gaming at its temporary casino in Rockford, dubbed An Opening Act, with plans to open its permanent venue by the end of this year.

“We thank the Illinois Gaming Board and its staff for their assistance throughout The Temporary’s construction and preparation,” Full House Resorts President and CEO Daniel R. Lee said in a statement. “I also want to thank our own team of approximately 500 founding employees, who have worked diligently to prepare us for this exciting moment. We are eager to welcome Chicagoland residents to The Temporary beginning on February 17.”

Full House Resorts beat out North Point for the Waukegan casino license, with Lee making a bold pitch to the Illinois Gaming Board in October 2021 for the Fountain Square section of the city. The permanent venue, which will be required to open within three years, is to feature more than 1,700 gaming positions including 100 table games, a helipad, and 20-room hotel mansion as part of a $400 million project. It is projected to create 2,000 construction jobs and 1,800 permanent jobs upon completion.

Looking to draw from Milwaukee, Chicago

In terms of gaming amenities, The Temporary by American Place will have approximately 1,000 slot machines and 50 table games. While Full House Resorts has an agreement with Circa Sports to run both its retail and mobile sports wagering operations, Full House has yet to apply for an organizational sports wagering license for retail betting, according to the Illinois Gaming Board’s website that lists applicants and licensees.

With table games availability, The Temporary will have a more complete suite of casino gaming available for patrons than Hard Rock, which offers only slots at its temporary venue. The Rockford location has generated more than $68 million in operator venue since its opening, with the state collecting close to $10.5 million in taxes.

The Temporary will open with two restaurants for dining — L’Américain, which features the diverse traditions of American cooking, and Asia-Azteca, which will offer both Asian and Latin cuisine. The Canoe Bar, situated in the center of the casino, will have a chandelier made of actual canoes. Two modified Airstream trailers will offer locally brewed craft beer, coffee and espresso drinks. A third restaurant, North Shore Steaks & Seafood, is scheduled to open in April.

The Waukegan area gives The Temporary by American Place a sizable population pool for potential success. Lake County has nearly 700,000 people and is the third-densest county in Illinois, with more than 1,500 people per square mile. As of 2020, it had a median annual income of nearly $39,000 — 10% higher than Cook County, which includes Chicago.

The southeastern Wisconsin counties of Racine and Kenosha swell the population total to nearly 1.1 million without including Cook County. The closest in-state casino option for Wisconsin residents currently is Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, about 60 miles north of The Temporary.

Updating the Illinois casino map

The other four new Illinois casino venues — in Williamson County, Danville, suburban Cook County, and downtown Chicago — are all expected to have gaming available by no later than the first quarter of 2024. Williamson County and Danville are expected to have casinos run by Walker’s Bluff and Golden Nugget, respectively, open by the third quarter of this year. Wind Creek is targeting a first-quarter opening in 2024 in suburban Cook County close to the Indiana state line.

The IGB is continuing to review Bally’s application submitted last August for a $1.8 billion casino in the River West neighborhood of Chicago. The board last week approved two suppliers licenses for entities that would operate the temporary casino at Medinah Temple in nearby River North.

Photo: Getty Images

Author: Ryan Gonzales