After 30 years of debate, it looks like – finally – a casino is coming to the South Suburbs. We’ve lived in the South Suburbs since the original casino debate began – and have led the communities of Homewood since 1997, and East Hazel Crest since 1989.
We watched, we listened, we participated in this debate – and when the time was right, we selected a trusted developer with the expertise and experience to move this project forward. Next, we did our homework and decided to partner with Wind Creek Hospitality, a casino operator with a stellar reputation and proven track record of success in both the U.S. and Caribbean. Wind Creek submitted its application to the Illinois Gaming Board on October 25, 2019.
The decision to support a casino and entertainment project in our villages is not just about dollars and cents – it’s about enhancing the quality of life in our communities. It’s about new roads, jobs, incentivizing new businesses to open and increasing opportunities for existing businesses. It’s also about ensuring that the economic benefits from a casino are maximized – not just by attracting people from across the south suburban region, but by actively marketing and drawing out-of-state patrons from Northwest Indiana.
To deliver on this promise, the south suburban casino needs to be located at a site that helps ensure maximum success.
And while we are far from impartial in this matter, we do believe that the best site for the south suburban casino license is in East Hazel Crest and Homewood. Located directly off of Interstate 80 at Halsted Street, our site has nearly 80 million vehicles pass by annually – far more than any of our competitor communities. We believe that we’ve chosen the best operator in Wind Creek, with a proven track record for managing premier properties with best-in-class amenities.
We also are committed to ensuring that the entire south suburban region will benefit, over the long haul, from a casino. In addition to gaming revenue, Wind Creek has already committed to significant contributions to the larger south suburban community if selected. We have partnered with Wind Creek to create the Southland Public Benefit Fund that will distribute $150,000 annually for the first five years of casino operation, with a goal of distributing $1 million annually after that. That’s money to fund scholarships for disadvantaged students and provide health services throughout the south suburban region.
We’ve waited a long time for this moment – and want to do it the right way. We look forward to assisting Wind Creek in making our case to the Gaming Board.
Tom Brown, mayor of East Hazel Crest
Richard Hofeld, mayor of Homewood