Home Gambling Full House Resorts’ Waukegan Casino Hobbled by Litigation

Full House Resorts’ Waukegan Casino Hobbled by Litigation

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Posted on: July 9, 2024, 08:27h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2024, 08:27h.

Full House Resorts says the city of Waukegan, Ill. may have to wait a while for the permanent version of its American Place Casino while the city fends off legal challenges from a Wisconsin-based tribal gaming operator.

Waukegan casino, Full House Resorts, Potawatomi, American Place, permanent casino
A digital rendering of the planned permanent American Place Casino in Waukegan whose construction has been halted by the Potawatomi Tribe’s legal challenges. (Image: Full House Resorts)

The Forest County Potawatomi of Wisconsin was a rejected bidder for the Waukegan casino license. It sued the city in October 2019 claiming it didn’t get a fair crack at the tender and that the process was “rigged.”

The tribe owns the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wis., one of the biggest entertainment destinations in the Midwest.

A judge in Cook County Court initially dismissed the suit without a hearing, but last year the complaint was revived in the state appeals court, which determined the tribe was entitled to have its case heard. This forced Full House to halt work on the permanent casino.

The developer had alerast opened the temporary venue,  The Temporary by American Place, in February 2023.

‘Too Much Uncertainty’

“As long as the litigation is ongoing, there is too much uncertainty around the development,” Full House’s senior vice president and chief development officer, Alex Stolyar, said Friday, as reported by The Chicago Tribune. “Unfortunately, this litigation has delayed our plans, but we appreciate the effort of the city and state working as quickly as they can to get this restarted.”

Unfortunately for the developer, the Illinois Supreme Court is in recess until September, and so its decision is not expected until at least the end of the year, according to the Tribune.

But the tribe has also filed a civil rights case against the city in the federal court, which is unlikely to be looked at until the resolution of the complaint in the state supreme court.

From there, assuming a favorable decision for Full House, it would be another 2½ to three years before the permanent casino could be in operation.

Conspiracy Claim

The Potawatomi claims in the state lawsuit that the city council partially based its decision on a flawed and “inaccurate” third-party report that undervalued the tribe’s contribution.

The federal lawsuit alleges that Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham instructed Waukegan City Council members on which bids to approve.

It claims Cunningham favored the proposal by former state senator Michael Bond, who had donated generously to Cunningham’s campaign via his video gambling machine company, Tap Room Gaming.

While Bond’s bid was ultimately rejected, it outlasted the Potawatomi bid in the process.

The city has called these allegations “factually suspect.” It has also noted that by the tribe’s own admission the Waukegan casino will divert “tens of millions of dollars a year” from the Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, and so the current legal standoff suits the tribe just fine.

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