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Place your bets: South suburbs jockeying for piece of statewide gambling expansion

Tinley Park Mental Health Center

Tinley Park Mental Health Center

Bets remain open for the site of a future Chicago casino, but proposals are already emerging for gaming venues at a handful of south suburban sites.

Legislation awaiting Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature would create a casino license for the south suburbs and allow a combined racetrack and casino in the region as well, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Political and business leaders in Tinley Park are promoting a plan to build the so-called “racino” on the site of the closed 280-acre Tinley Park Mental Health Center campus. Village officials are looking to partner with Rick Heidner, owner of Gold Rush Gaming, on the project..

Officials East Hazel Crest and Homewood, meanwhile, are courting an out-of-town gaming operator to build a casino near the intersection of Halsted Street and the Tri-State Tollway. But a competing proposal would put the casino on a 58-acre plot of farmland in Lynwood and Ford Heights, near the intersection of Illinois 394 and U.S. 30.

The gambling expansion bill approved by lawmakers would create six new casino licenses, allow three existing racetracks to add casino games and allow the creation of two new “racinos.” One of the casinos would go in Chicago, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her staff would study potential sites before getting behind any specific proposal.

The new casinos could create competition for Neil Bluhm, managing partner of Walton Street Capital, who is also chairman of the Rush Street gaming company. Rush Street owns the Rivers Casino in northwest suburban Des Plaines but so far does not plan to pursue any of the new casino licenses, according to the Sun-Times. [Chicago Sun-Times]Alex Nitkin

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