Penn Entertainment to Replace Two Illinois Riverboat Casinos With Land-Based Casinos

Penn Entertainment announced its plans to replace riverboat casinos in both Aurora and Joliet, Illinois with new land-based facilities. 

Construction of both new developments is expected to begin in late 2023 but is subject to regulatory approval. Hollywood Casino Aurora was opened in 1993 and has been under Penn Entertainment’s ownership since 2003. Hollywood Casino Joliet was opened in 2009. 

“Since the change in the law to permit land-side casino relocation in Illinois we have been exploring the viability of relocating our aging riverboats in Aurora and Joliet,” Penn Entertainment’s Chief Executive Officer and President Jay Snowden said in a press release.  “These two projects will significantly improve our offerings in the highly attractive Chicagoland market while creating hundreds of new full-time jobs for the local communities.” 

Details of the Aurora Development

The proposed new land-based casino will be located adjacent to the Chicago Premium Outlets mall, near Exit 119 off I-88. The development will include an estimated $360 million budget. 

“Our plan for Aurora is to construct a modern, best-in-class casino and hotel in an ideal location off I-88 that will allow us to serve the millions of visitors to the adjacent Simon Premium Outlet Mall,” Snowden said. 

It’s expected to include a modern casino, 200 hotel rooms, 900 slots, 50 live table games including baccarat and poker rooms, a Barstool Sportsbook, a full-service spa, multiple bars and restaurants, meeting rooms, and an event center.

Illinois online casinos: Could they be on the way in the near future?

Details of the Joliet Development

The intent for the Joliet development is to build a land-based casino as part of the Rock Run Crossings development project which is next to the I-80 and I-55 interchange. 

This project has an estimated budget of $185 million. The proposed casino will have 800 slots, 45 live table games, a baccarat room, a Barstool Sportsbook, bars and restaurants, meeting areas, and an event center.

Elsewhere in Illinois Casino Development

Another casino that is coming to Illinois is Hard Rock Rockford Casino and Hotel. Hard Rock recently broke ground on the construction of its permanent casino location which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2023. 

The casino will likely open in two phases with the first one opening the casino and the second phase bringing the hotel rooms. 

Until the opening, Rockford Casino is serving as a temporary facility. 

Illinois Sports Betting Update

Online and in-person sports betting is legal in Illinois with both having launched in 2020. 

Both of these new casino developments are planning to include a Barstool Sportsbook like their original riverboat casino locations. 

In addition to the sportsbooks at Hollywood Casino in Aurora and Joliet there are seven other retail sportsbooks open in the state:

  • DraftKings At Casino Queen
  • PointsBet Sportsbook At Hawthorne Racecourse
  • Rivers Casino Des Plaines Sportsbook (BetRivers)
  • Par-A-Dice (FanDuel)
  • Grand Victoria (Caesars)
  • Argosy Casino Alton Sportsbook (Penn National Gaming)
  • Harrah’s Joliet and Metropolis (Barstool)

PointsBet also has three off-track betting sites in Crestwood, Oakbrook Terrace, and Prospect Heights. There are three more sportsbooks expected to open at Arlington International Racecourse, Jumer’s, and Fairmount Park Racetrack. 

In addition to those, a DraftKings Sportsbook is set to open soon at Wrigley Field.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

About the Author

Corey Roepken

Corey Roepken is the News Editor for Midwest Sharp. Roepken has 20 years of experience as a sports journalist in Michigan, Texas, and Tennessee. Most notably, he covered professional and international soccer for the Houston Chronicle. He has also covered college softball, SEC football, the MLB, and the NFL.