JOLIET, Ill. (WLS) -- There was a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for a new Hollywood Casino location in Joliet.
Even as officials put shovels in the dirt for the symbolic groundbreaking, crews were already moving dirt on the real construction site a few yards away.
The site is planned to be a new $185 million casino complex, featuring slot machines and table games along with lots of hotel, restaurant and entertainment space, including a convention center.
"It's going to be so important for this region to develop a destination that functions for everybody and creates the opportunity to have some fun," said Doug Pryor with Will Co. Center for Economic Development.
Joliet has had riverboat casinos for more than three decades, including Harrah's casino, which is owned by Caesars Entertainment.
The time has come for Hollywood Casino, which is owned by Penn Entertainment, to move off of the water after a change in the law allowing land-based casinos in Illinois.
The casino will be in a much higher profile location, near the interchange of I-55 and I-80 with about 230,000 cars passing by a day.
"The location of this we think will help drive more business to the property," said Mike Thoma with Hollywood Casino Joliet. "It's a fantastic location."
The groundbreaking event comes less than a month after a similar groundbreaking for the same company in Aurora, where they also plan to move from the Riverboat downtown to a land-based location just off Interstate-88
With immense competition for gambling dollars from video gaming locations in bars and restaurants to online as well as brick and mortar sports books, it is a difficult landscape for casinos. They are hoping the tremendous growth in Will County will help draw business.
"That kind of is a magnet to bring all kinds of other businesses, restaurants," Joliet Mayor Terry D'Arcy said. "We're trying to develop a second downtown."