Potawatomi Tribe lawsuit could require Waukegan to re-evaluate casino licenses

August 2, 2023
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Waukegan's Temporary Casino by American Place may be required to undergo a new license review, even though it has been open for six months.

American Place, the temporary casino that opened in February this year in Waukegan, could potentially lose its location due to an Illinois’ First District Appellate Court ruling. The Forest County Potawatomi Community has stated that the Tribe wasn’t treated fairly in 2019 during licensing approvals.

Governor J.B. Pritzker created the license for the Waukegan casino, along with five others, in 2019 as part of a process in which communities were required to sign off on bids. Part of the Potawatomi suit alleges that former Waukegan Mayor, Sam Cunningham, told city council members which bids to approve at the time.

Granted a license in 2021, Full House Resorts built and opened the temporary American Place casino, while the Tribe has since called the process “rigged.” At the time, a Cook County Circuit Court judge said the Tribe’s lawsuit over the casino license “lacked standing.”

The current appellate decision could restart the casino license selection process in the area, even though The Temporary by American Place has a permanent casino venue that is currently under construction, with a finish date set for 2026. The company has said the project is a $400m investment.

The Temporary by American Place has generated over $30m in adjusted gross revenue from its opening to the end of June, or about $221,000 per day. Full House Resorts is not classified as a defendant in the Potawatomi Tribe lawsuit, and has had no accusation lodged against the company.

While Waukegan city officials have not officially commented on the nature of this appeal, Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford wrote in a statement that the court has acknowledged “the City’s failure to lawfully conduct the casino selection process and recognized that retracting the current casino license and repeating the casino selection process would remedy Potawatomi’s claims.”

The Tribe’s claims will go to the Circuit Court for further review. Alex Stolyar, Chief Development Officer at Full House Resorts said the company’s attorneys were considering the appellate court decision still.

Justice Raymond Mitchell wrote in the recent decision, “Potawatomi Casino pursued a significant business opportunity to fairly compete for a casino license, and where that opportunity was denied due to the city’s alleged failure to perform the process lawfully, there is a distinct and palpable injury.”


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