Bids Announced For Dormant Illinois Casino License

Bid amounts were announced for a dormant Illinois casino license, with Penn National Gaming submiting the highest offer.

The bids were released today by the Illinois Gaming Board.

Penn National bid $506 million for the license currently held by bankrupt Emerald Casino. Harrah's Entertainment had the next highest bid at $375 million, followed by Wynn Midwest in partnership with Wynn Resorts and Midwest Gaming and Entertainment, at $360 million.

Isle of Capri Casinos bid $351 million, followed by Southland Development Group at $250 million, Caesars Entertainment at $205 million, and Mandalay Hyatt, a partnership between Hyatt Development and Mandalay Resort Group, at $20 million.

Elzie Higginbottom, the gaming board's chairman, said the board staff would be meeting with the bidders to better understand their proposals. The Penn proposal, for example, would have the state ultimately owning the casino.

Higginbottom said the board plans to pare the bids down to three finalists on Feb. 23 ahead of a license auction on March 10. The winner would have to be confirmed by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

"We want this to be a fair and open competitive process," Higginbottom said.

The bids call for building casinos in various Chicago suburbs, with three bidders selecting Rosemont, a town near O'Hare International Airport.

Illinois officials hoped to get $350 million for the license to aid the state's tight budget.