The company that owns Hollywood Casino on Monday announced that it will relocate its Joliet casino to the Rock Run Crossings development.
The move has been rumored for months but not confirmed until the announcement on Monday from Penn Entertainment Inc.
The relocation will keep the casino in Joliet but put it in the Rock Run Crossings development now underway at Interstates 55 and 80.
Penn Entertainment expects to begin construction on the new casino in late 2023, subject to approval by regulators.
The company announced the move along with a relocation of its Aurora casino.
“In Joliet, our planned casino will be located in the Rock Run Crossings development mixed use project in close proximity to the I-80 and I-55 interchange, which offers exceptional visibility and accessibility,” Penn CEO Jay Snowden said in a news 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.”
The casino at Rock Run Crossings is estimated to be a $185 million project, Penn said in the release.
The new Joliet casino would include “a modern, best-in-class casino with approximately 800 slots and 45 live table games (including a baccarat room), a Barstool Sportsbook, high quality bars and restaurants, approximately 10,000 square feet of meeting areas and an event center,” the release said.
The casino is one feature of the 309-acre Rock Run Crossings project, which also is planned for stores, restaurants, hotels, other entertainment venues, apartments and office space.
The Aurora casino also would be moved to an interstate location connected with other uses. Penn plans to build a casino and hotel at a spot Snowden called, “an ideal location off I-88 that will allow us to serve the millions of visitors to the adjacent Simon Premium Outlet Mall.”
Both casinos now are at riverside locations.
Hollywood Casino Joliet is along the Des Plaines River at an isolated spot along Route 6 where the site itself has no roadside visibility, although there is a sign along the highway.
“Since the change in law to permit land-side casino relocation in Illinois, we have been exploring the viability of relocating our aging riverboats in Aurora and Joliet,” Snowden said.
Cullinan Properties, which is developing Rock Run Crossings, and the Illinois Gaming Board did not respond to requests for comment on the Penn announcement.
But a gaming board official previously pointed to 2019 legislation allowing land-based casinos in Illinois when asked about the potential relocation of Hollywood Casino Joliet. The legislation allows a land-based casino with the approval of the gaming board and payment of a $250,000 fee. The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines utilized the provision to open its land-based casino.
The Penn announcement is the second announced use for Rock Run Crossings.
The previous announcement came in 2019 when city officials and Cullinan said Regal Cinemas would bring a movie theater to the site. That prospect was dampened last month when the parent company for Regal Cinemas filed for bankruptcy, although Cullinan said it still had a lease for the company’s future Joliet location.
The announcement of Hollywood Casino gives renewed vitality to the project.
“It really underscores what a great development we have going at I-55 and I-80,” Mayor Bob O’Dekirk said.
The city has been trying to open the interstate crossroads for development since 2008, seeing it as a potential draw not only for Joliet but far into the Chicago metropolitan area and central Illinois. A new I-55 interchange now is under construction to create access to the site.
The casino also would be a generator of tax revenues that would help the city pay off a $103 million bond issue that is financing infrastructure for the Rock Run Crossings project.
“I know it’s a big number,” O’Dekirk said of the bond issue, “but if you look at the revenue that a casino bring in it makes sense.”
The city can use tax revenues generated from the development to pay off the bonds.