“We will build a world class casino and entertainment destination that
will generate more revenue and economic development than any other site
under consideration,” said Neil Bluhm, Chairman of Midwest Gaming &
Entertainment, LLC, when he addressed the Illinois Gaming Board today and
unveiled Midwest’s plans for a casino, hotel and entertainment destination
in Des Plaines.
A Des Plaines casino will generate over $53 million more revenue for the
State in the first year and more than $500 million more revenue over the
next ten years than Harrah’s proposal for Waukegan, according to The
Innovation Group’s projections.
Harrah’s bid for the tenth license is $15 million more than Midwest’s.
“The difference in the initial bid is dwarfed by the difference in tax
revenues to the state when you compare Waukegan to Des Plaines,” said
The Des Plaines and Rosemont locations are both ideally situated to
attract Chicagoland residents and tourists alike. Bluhm explained that the
Des Plaines casino would generate more revenue than Rosemont’s because of
the upscale nature of the project and the capabilities of the Midwest
team. Isle of Capri’s core competency is smaller boats in smaller markets.
In contrast, Midwest’s team has extensive and varied experience in
“destination development” and manages one of the highest grossing casinos
in North America.
Midwest plans a unique high-end project on an 18-acre site complete with
luxury hotel, restaurants, entertainment lounge and retail. “We are not
creating another riverboat or template casino,” said Bluhm. “We are
creating an experience that is uniquely tailored to capture both the
middle- and high-end markets.”
“Our decor and music will invoke the history that made Chicagoland
internationally famous. Our restaurant will reflect the love affair with
great food that appeals to a wide audience. Our guests will come for
gaming ... and more,” said Greg Carlin, President of Midwest Gaming.
In a departure from its competitors, the City of Des Plaines unveiled a
revenue share proposal that allocates 25% of the tax revenues to the ten
most economically depressed communities in Cook County. Based on the
percentage of families below the poverty line, the ten initially proposed
communities are Ford Heights, Robbins, Dixmoor, Harvey City, Phoenix,
Riverdale, Markham City, Chicago Heights City, Cicero, and Summit.
“There is no lack of need in Des Plaines, but we are fully aware of the
needs of other communities for the economic benefits that a casino
brings,” said Mayor Arredia of Des Plaines. “We feel it is our privilege
and our responsibility to share our good fortune, should we be chosen.”
Midwest also announced that it will form a foundation and contribute 3% of
its annual pre-tax income, up to $5 million per year to foster economic
development throughout the State. Leslie Bluhm, Co-Founder and President
of Chicago Cares, and Partner in Midwest Gaming, will spearhead the
Steven Rittvo, President of The Innovation Group, the gaming industry’s
leading financial and operating consultant, explained why the Des Plaines
location would be so successful. He said Illinois has been losing market
share to Indiana’s boats over the past two years, with market share
falling from 55.8% in 2001 to 49.6% in 2003.
“Des Plaines is the most powerful site because of its location. The site
is projected to generate in excess of 3.5 million annual visits and $456
million of gaming revenue in its first year. That is $147 million more
than Waukegan is projected to generate,” said Rittvo.
“The 10th license will reconfigure revenue expenditures among casinos.
However, a Des Plaines location will have the most positive impact in
terms of revenue for Illinois because it recaptures dollars now going to
Indiana, creating a market growth of approximately $260 million. The Des
Plaines proposal will add in excess of $200 million in tax revenues to the
State each year, more than either of its competitors.”
Midwest Gaming also announced it will contribute up to $3 million to the
State of Illinois to complete construction of the I-294/Devon interchange,
which the State has planned but has been unable to fund.
Bluhm’s real estate, development and gaming experience is significant.
Some of his most well-known local projects are Chicago’s Water Tower Place
and Ritz Carlton, the Bloomingdale’s Four Seasons at 900 N. Michigan, Oak
Brook Mall and Old Orchard. Aside from his Chicago works, other notable
development destinations include the Four Seasons Hotels in Milan, Sydney
Bluhm is Chairman of the Board of Falls Management Company, which manages
Casino Niagara, one of the most successful casinos in North America and
Canada’s number one commercial tourist destination. Additionally, Falls
Management Company is developing the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
opening in Spring 2004, on time and on budget. This exciting new
development, which overlooks Niagara Falls, will have more gaming
positions than any casino in Las Vegas, a five-star hotel and spa,
high-end dining, and retail and conference space.
Bluhm closed his presentation by suggesting to the Gaming Board that
Midwest Gaming’s proposal best meets the particular criteria of the Gaming
Act because it will maximize revenue for the state, best promote tourism
and create significant and sustained economic development.