Special meeting could determine Rockford Casino license

ROCKFORD (WREX) — It looks like the Illinois Gaming Board may need one more day than it is allowed to approve or deny Rockford’s Hard Rock Casino License, though it has not officially sent an extension notice to the City of Rockford or Hard Rock Casino.

The City of Rockford tells 13 WREX it received notification Wednesday of a special gaming board meeting that will take place on October 29 at 10 a.m.. An agenda has not been set.

By law, the IGB has a year from when the license application was sent to the gaming board, which happened on October 28, 2019. It must approve the license at a public meeting, but Rockford’s license wasn’t on any public meeting agenda in that year timeframe. If it does not meet that deadline, it has the option to hold a special public meeting, or give a written reason for an extension, and when it expects to have a determination. It appears, in this situation, it may do both. Though, the city and Hard Rock both say they have not received any notice of extension.

“The Hard Rock team is still waiting for approval from the Illinois Gaming Board and is excited and hopeful that it will happen soon,” said Pam Maher, Spokesperson for Hard Rock Casino. “We won’t know, however, what is on the agenda for the October 29th meeting until 48 hours in advance when the IGB publicly posts it.”

The IGB did send an email confirming the October 29 special meeting, saying it will not hold the November 5 meeting as regularly scheduled.

Wednesday afternoon, 13 WREX received a written statement from the IGB, which said it did not comment on pending applications, “[O]ther than to say that it is processing, vetting and investigating the 9 new casino applicant submissions.”

On September 16, Lawyers from Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, who represent the city in the casino process, said the IGB had been in contact about the proposal and asking questions.

“There’s clearly a lot of work that the staff at the IGB is doing,” said Cezar Froelich, from Taft Law. “They’ve clearly got a tremendous number of applications to process, we can see that work is being done. But, it would appear we are not going to hit the October 28th statutory deadline.”

Until the casino is approved, no construction can be done and the temporary location at Giovanni’s on North Bell School Road cannot happen.

“I am hopeful that the Board will take substantive action on the application but I realize that it may simply issue an extension. Either way, I’m glad the process is moving forward and I look forward to one day soon having a casino in our community,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara said in a statement via email.

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