Construction of the Wind Creek Chicago Southland casino is set to begin on I-80/294 at Halsted Street on the border of Homewood and East Hazel Crest, Illinois. When complete in 2023, it will feature 1,350    slot machines, 56 table games and a 252-room hotel. Provided image
Construction of the Wind Creek Chicago Southland casino is set to begin on I-80/294 at Halsted Street on the border of Homewood and East Hazel Crest, Illinois. When complete in 2023, it will feature 1,350 slot machines, 56 table games and a 252-room hotel. Provided image
Northwest Indiana motorists traveling in Illinois on Interstate 80/294 soon will notice a major development beginning to rise just west of the Thornton quarry and immediately south of the tollway at Halsted Street.

It's the long-awaited south suburban Cook County casino.

Last week, casino leaders and local officials ceremonially broke ground for construction of the new casino that will feature 1,350 slot machines, 56 table games, entertainment, dining, and a 252-room luxury hotel, among other amenities, when Wind Creek Chicago Southland opens in 2023 on the border of Homewood and East Hazel Crest.

"Wind Creek doesn't just build casinos, we truly build communities," said Stephanie Bryan, tribal chairwoman and CEO of the Poarch Creek Indians.

"We’re so very thankful for the support of community leaders, local organizations and residents of the south suburbs who helped get us to this point — and look forward to working with you to ensure that the benefits associated with this project are experienced by the entire region."

The Illinois Gaming Board in December selected Wind Creek Hospitality, a commercial enterprise of the Alabama-based Native American tribe, to develop the south suburban casino authorized in 2019 by the Illinois General Assembly after decades of lobbying by south suburban leaders.

The 70,000-square foot casino and adjacent hotel tower, with long-distance views of downtown Chicago, are expected to employ 800 workers on a permanent basis, in addition to creating 600 construction-related jobs.

A portion of the revenue from the casino and related development will go toward the state of Illinois, south suburban communities, and the Southland Public Benefit Fund to support health care services for south suburban residents and college scholarships for disadvantaged students.

"Our commitment to this community has already begun and will only be strengthened as we move our focus to job creation and finalizing the details of the Southland Public Benefit Fund," said Jay Dorris, president and CEO, Wind Creek Hospitality.

"People across the Southland have been waiting for this casino and the community investment that comes along with it, and we're happy to be taking concrete steps to see this dream realized."

It's not yet known how the south suburban casino will impact the four gaming destinations in Northwest Indiana or its prospects for success with a nearly four-times larger Illinois casino due to be built in coming years northwest of the Loop in downtown Chicago.

Records show the Wind Creek Chicago Southland casino, located six miles west of the Illinois-Indiana state line, will be about 80% of the size of the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana that's adjacent to Interstate 80/94 at Burr Street in Gary, six miles east of the Indiana-Illinois state line.

The hotel at the south suburban casino will be about the same size as the high-rise hotel at the Ameristar Casino on Lake Michigan in East Chicago.

Privately, Northwest Indiana casino leaders say they're not too worried about Wind Creek because the brand is unknown in the Region and the rewards associated with loyalty programs for the Northwest Indiana casino parent companies — Caesars, Penn National, Hard Rock and Boyd Gaming — are more appealing to casino guests.
© Copyright 2022, nwitimes.com, Munster, IN