Players for casino license show hands

November 25, 2008 3:33:32 PM PST
Rosemont presented a startling plan for the state's final casino license, for which it is competing with Waukegan and Des Plaines. On Tuesday, Rosemont's mayor said his village is not looking to reap big benefits if it wins the license.

Waukegan believes it's the most deserving. Des Plaines believes it is the best bet for the state, and then there's Rosemont - which has offered - by far - the most money for the tenth casino license.

Rosemont has arguably the most extensive revenue sharing plan with financially-needy communities. But the village also has a history that helped sink its earlier bids. On Tuesday, Rosemont and its gaming partner sought to cut ties with the past.

If Rosemont were to win, the casino would go where Rosemont wanted to put it a decade ago - and again four years ago during another license competition that was shelved because of concerns about Rosemont and alleged ties to organized crime figures.

"I want to personally commit to you that Rosemont will be no source of problems for the gaming board," said Brad Stephens, Rosemont mayor.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Rosemont who's the son of the late Don Stephens, told the gaming board that if Rosemont is picked three new village rules would take effect:

  • No village of Rosemont employee or family member would be allowed to work at the casino;
  • No vendors doing business with Rosemont would be allowed to do business with the casino;
  • and the mayor and village board members would not be allowed to gamble in the casino.
  • "Transparency. We want nothing to do with the operations or anybody that works there - that's up to this man and his company," said Stephens.

    "All of the concerns- whether valid or not, relate to other times and other people and none of those conditions exist today," said Alex Yemenidjian, Trilliant Gaming CEO.

    Rosemont's partner, Trilliant Gaming, says the company's due diligence review shows no conflicts, and it will share that report with the gaming board. Rosemont's initial bid for the tenth casino license is $435-million, which is significantly more than Des Plaines and Waukegan.

    "Why is the license worth less than half to you. We can't understand how they came up with their bid. So maybe they made a mistake. Maybe they didn't look at the economics today," said Midwest Gaming CEO Neil Bluhm.

    Midwest Gaming wants the tenth license to go to Des Plaines ? which is just a mile and a half north of the Rosemont site. Midwest argues that the 20-acre site would lead to more development, more money for the state, and would handle traffic more efficiently.

    "This is Waukegan's time," said Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde.

    The principle theme of Waukegan's pitch is that its high unemployment makes it the most deserving of the three.

    All three gaming companies and their host cities will now negotiate with the board which could lead to a sweetening of their bids.

    The plan is to pick a winner by the end of the calendar year, and while there are many criteria for selecting the best bid, a lot of weight will be assigned to the team that can guarantee the most money and a rapid delivery to a state with a budget way out of whack.


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