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07/16/2019

Hard Rock announces casino proposal for Rockford; further details forthcoming

From World Casino News

At an invitation-only announcement today at the site of the former Clock Tower Resort, Jim Allen, chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Hard Rock International together with Cheap Trick guitarist, Rick Nielsen, presented their proposal for a Hard Rock Casino Rockford.

While the location on East State Street is considered a favorite to win the one and only available Rockford casino license, other worthy proposals are also expected, according to the Rockford Register Star.

Late last month, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed bills authorizing a $45 billion construction plan courtesy of revenue from significant tax hikes on gas and cigarettes and massive gambling expansion, including brand new casinos in the city of Chicago and the suburbs, and legalized sports betting. The gambling expansion, along with cigarette and gas tax increases that both took effect on July 1, 2019, will serve to fuel the “Rebuild Illinois” capital spending plan, that Gov. Pritzker called “the largest, most robust capital plan in state history,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

At the WIFR TV coverage on Tuesday afternoon, Allen talked about the Hard Rock brand and how the proposal is a “competition” and they want to keep a lot of the details confidential. During the brief Q & A with media, he said that a project estimate would be announced when they submit their response to the request for proposal (RFP), again noting that “they” don’t want the competition to know how much they’re spending. However, he did say that these types of projects are “traditionally in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Allen said they would be interested in a temporary casino, that it is included in the legislation, and that local partners have been working on the project for seven years, and that they’ve had the relationship for three years. When asked about the interest in the location, Allen said that the site in Rockford was “prime real estate” due to “its history as the center point of entertainment,” and having access to major highways.

He went on to say that the development would provide for approximately 1,000 to 1,200 permanent jobs and about 1,000 construction jobs almost 100% of which would be local contractors, with a preference given to local residents. Allen said that phase one could be expected to be completed within 12-14 months and that the venue would be 100% branded and managed by Hard Rock, with ownership a partnership.