Rivers Casino invites all of Chicago to casino grand opening

Jun 27, 2011 8:16 PM

While frustration reigned in East Chicago, Indiana, over whether a bridge connecting the community with Chicago, Illinois, will get built, a developer has been working diligently to open a new casino.

Midwest Gaming and Entertainment LLC has announced that it will open its $435 million Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois, on July 18. Marketing for the property has been aimed at "all Chicagoland."

That’s not good news for the East Chicago, Indiana, riverboat-casino owned by Ameristar Casinos Inc. (ASCA). The property has been hurting financially since the closing of theCline Avenue Bridge that linked the gaming property with the Chicago-area population.

Looking to generate state interest in building a new Chicago link, Ameristar Casinos initially offered $35 million toward its construction.

The Indiana Department of Transportation was faced with a $150 million expense for a new bridge, less the contribution from Ameristar Casinos, or a $70 million permanent detour.

That’s when Illinois lawmakers passed a gambling expansion bill that would authorize a casino for downtown Chicago and four other gaming properties around the state. Also, the bill would permit the state’s seven horse tracks to add slot machines.

The move caused officials at Ameristar Casinos to withhold its offer while it rethinks its investment in light of the competition that Illinois was contemplating.

The Illinois bill still sits on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk without action. Quinn supports a Chicago casino but opposes the largess of the legislature in expanding gambling.

All the indecision is playing into the hands of Midway Gaming’s Rivers Casino. The 147,000 square foot state-of-the-art gaming facility will offer more than 1,000 slot machines and 48 table games and all the currently-expected amenities.

In addition, the company says it will offer shuttle service from both O’Hare and Midway airports and from various hotels from the Chicago area.

"The Rivers Casino is a showplace attraction for the entire region," stated Neil Bluhm, chairman of Midwest Gaming and Entertainment LLC.