Hollywood Casino Aurora’s parent company, PENN Entertainment, Inc., intends to develop a new land-based casino and hotel adjacent to the Chicago Premium Outlets mall, near Exit 119 off I-88, which would replace the current Hollywood Casino Aurora riverboat property. The development, with an estimated budget of $360 million, is expected to include a modern, best-in-class casino and hotel with approximately 900 slots and 50 live table games (including a baccarat room and a poker room), a Barstool Sportsbook with the ability to host popular Barstool personalities and approximately 200 hotel rooms. In addition, the property will feature a full-service spa, high-quality bars and restaurants, approximately 10,000 square feet of meeting areas and an event center. Construction of the new property is expected to begin in late 2023, subject to city and regulatory approval.
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Features & Benefits
A state-of-the-art gaming, hospitality, event and entertainment resort destination, including a best-in-class sports book. Hospitality will include a four-star quality hotel with approximately 200 rooms, an Italian steakhouse, Asian noodle bar, sports bar, and a variety of other dining options to be announced soon. These amenities were chosen intentionally to create synergies with the outlet mall and drive visitors to Aurora.
The casino and hotel will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified and will incorporate energy efficient lighting, water conserving toilets, and integrated sink systems for reductions in paper utilization.
Currently, Hollywood Casino has a multi-year agreement sponsoring Paramount and RiverEdge Park, and we expect to expand this relationship as we draw in new casino guests at the improved location. In addition, we have a long-standing relationship with Aurora Civic Center Authority and are a Marquee Sponsor of Dreamgirls and The Sound of Music, and expect to continue this partnership.
We expect the project to create hundreds of construction jobs, including those in the building trades unions. PENN Entertainment will work with the general contractor to forge partnerships with unions and to identify opportunities for local businesses and minority, women and veteran owned businesses to participate in the construction and procurement process.
The casino currently employs approximately 350 team members, and we expect the new property will employ roughly 700 team members. This means the new Hollywood Casino Aurora would create approximately 350 new permanent jobs in the City of Aurora. We also plan to host job fairs in Aurora for these career oppurtunities.
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Frequently Asked questions
The new casino is proposed at the southwest corner of Farnsworth Avenue and Bilter Road in the City of Aurora. This site is just west of the Chicago Premium Outlets and is ideally situated near I-88. Originally, a preliminary vision for the City was to relocate the new casino to the 50-acres of City owned land northeast of the Chicago Premium Outlets (the Bilter Road site). However, based upon input received from nearby residents since that property was acquired, the new casino is no longer proposed for the Bilter Road site.
PENN Entertainment will be the developer and Marnell Companies will be designing the new facility. A general contractor and other consulting firms will also participate at the direction of PENN Entertainment.
We estimate construction will last 24 months.
We anticipate site work to begin during the second half of 2023 and meaningful construction of the new facility to begin in early 2024.
We expect sometime in the second half of 2025 or early 2026.
The City of Aurora was instrumental in getting the gaming law changed to allow for relocation within the casino’s home city, as well as removing the requirement that gaming floors be situated above water. The City’s efforts allow for the casino, its jobs, tax revenue and other benefits to expand while still remaining in Aurora.
The expanded gaming law that passed in 2019 allowed for both new casinos in the Chicago area and the movement of riverboats to landside. Coupled with the rampant proliferation of Video Gaming Terminals (VGTs) throughout the state, the existing location of Hollywood Casino Aurora is at a significant competitive disadvantage. The opportunity to partner with the City to develop a new facility in a more convenient location will both support additional economic growth in the community and allow the construction of a new, state-of-the-art gaming resort that can compete on a more level playing field with both existing and future gaming facilities in the state and create the opportunity for more tax revenue for the City.
No, there is only one casino license for Aurora. PENN Entertainment will be able to operate the original casino up until the opening date of the new casino.
Once the new proposed casino opens, the existing casino will be closed. The Redevelopment Agreement (RDA) requires PENN Entertainment to demolish the existing casino (barge, building, and walkway over the Fox River to the west and turn the land over to the City of Aurora). Future planning is necessary to determine the highest and best use for the downtown location. The City sees a tremendous opportunity to build something truly unique and exciting to continue to strengthen the downtown and the City.
The two existing Downtown Parking Decks used by the Casino will remain and will be available for the general public and downtown businesses. The additional parking will help spur downtown development along with providing additional parking for RiverEdge Park and the Paramount Theatre.
As referenced at the Council meeting following approval of the RDA, the City of Aurora and PENN Entertainment are holding an open house on May 18th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Aurora Police Department at 1200 East Indian Trail Road. The public will have the opportunity to view the project plans and ask questions. PENN has also established an email address for the public to send comments or ask questions about the development.
The public is also able to attend public hearings and public meetings related to the casino development project before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council. Those meetings will be scheduled starting in late May. More information about the date and time of these meetings can be found by Clicking Here or by calling the City Clerk’s Office at (630) 256-3070.
PENN Entertainment prepared a traffic study and City staff made numerous recommendations and reviewed drafts before providing preliminary approval. Both PENN Entertainment and the City are focused on managing traffic in this area in order to ensure safe and efficient traffic movements.
The City and PENN Entertainment have worked collaboratively to identify potential traffic and congestion issues and to develop strategies to mitigate and address those issues. As the City has learned from the existing gaming facility, casino-related traffic has not caused any significant issues over the years, and we expect the same once the new facility is up and running.
Some of the mitigation measures will include new northbound and southbound lanes along Farnsworth Avenue, new eastbound and westbound lanes along Bilter Road, longer and additional turn lanes and traffic signal modernization. Alternative modes of travel will also be designed into the project such as public transit, designated ride-sharing drop off and pick up zones, and new sidewalks.
Yes. Currently there are two Pace bus fixed routes that pass by the future location (Routes #533 and #540). If approved, the City and PENN Entertainment will work with Pace on a new stop.
Yes. In addition to internal sidewalks, and pedestrian crossings at signalized intersections, there will be a multi-use trail along all three sides of the new casino – Farnsworth, Bilter and Church. The existing multi-use trail along the east side of Farnsworth Avenue will be extended.
The City Council voted to to support the new casino through the issuance of bonds backed by new real estate taxes generated by the new casino. The City’s support represents less than 15% of the estimated $360 million investment being made by PENN Entertainment. Notably, PENN Entertainment is advancing funds for the new casino and the City is only reimbursing PENN for certain costs.
Importantly, the anticipated increase in tax revenues from the new facility is expected to provide revenues to not only service the bonds but to also generate millions of additional dollars annually to reinvest into the community. The bonds would not be issued but for the development of the new casino property and the additional tax dollars it is expected to generate.
Currently, the casino’s operations provide approximately $6 million annually in gaming taxes. Maintaining the status quo with new gaming options throughout the region and new casinos opening soon will likely further decrease annual gaming tax revenues for Aurora. The proposed new casino resort at a more highly visible, accessible and convenient location is expected to both increase annual gaming tax revenue and create new property, food and beverage and hotel tax revenue, as well as associated tax revenue due to increased employment at the new facility. Since it opened, Hollywood Casino has contributed approximately $300 million dollars in gaming taxes to the City of Aurora.
The City of Aurora is focused on increasing our non-traditional, non-property tax revenue sources which helps to reduce the need to increase City property taxes. The City expects to see increased social services, greater community programs, additional capital improvements, and more projects funded through Ward funds which results in stronger neighborhoods and home values.
Once completed, the project is expected to have minimal impact on School District #131 (which serves the site of the existing casino barge on Stolp Island). There will be a projected reduction in property taxes once the current casino relocates, however new downtown redevelopment underway and more projects being planned within district boundaries are expected to more than make up for this loss. In addition, the City’s TIF District #1 expires at the end of 2022 and will return approximately $20 million of increased property valuation to the general tax rolls. This new property valuation will make available $500,000 in new annual property tax revenue to School District #131. At the new location, the Batavia School District #101 will see a substantial increase in property tax revenue once the proposed TIF District expires. The anticipated increases in gaming revenues, hotel, and food and beverage taxes will allow more potential partnership and support opportunities between the City and all of its school districts.
Opponents of casino gaming like to toss out fear tactics about gaming, most of the time with little to no facts. Hollywood Casino has been a strong partner with the City of Aurora for decades and have, and will continue, to work closely with law enforcement to ensure the property – both the existing riverboat and a potential new facility – will be safe for our customers and team members.
A few years ago the University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted the most robust independent study in decades on the effects of gaming on crime rates, traffic, responsible gaming and economic development to communities who host gaming facilities and the surrounding environs. They found there to be no significant link between the presence of a casino and an increase in crime.
An additional study by Drexel University and Temple University criminologists examined 96 months of crime data in Philadelphia after a casino opened and found “no evidence” of “a significantly detrimental effect on the immediate neighborhood in terms of violent street felonies, vehicle crime, residential burglary or drug crimes.”
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