Illinois’ gamblers have a new venue to try out as of this week, with the grand opening of the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Carterville.
Last Friday, Governor J.B. Pritzker inaugurated the $147 million, 190,000-square-foot establishment. It is the 14th Illinois casino venue to open in the state since 1991.
The facility offers a range of amenities, such as 650 slot machines, 14 table games, a 113-room hotel, five dining options, a spa and wellness center, and a 1,200-seat event space.
“We are excited to welcome guests to experience everything Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort has to offer,” said Tom Griffith, the general manager of Walker’s Bluff Casino.
This development is part of the state’s broader efforts to expand its gaming sector. Walker’s Bluff is the third casino to open its doors this year, following The Temporary in Waukegan and the Golden Nugget in Danville.
Bally’s is also preparing to launch the first casino in Chicago when it opens its temporary Medinah Temple venue in the near future.
Vision and Commitment
Walker’s Bluff, situated between St. Louis and Nashville, has been a prospective site for a casino for many years.
Elite Casino Resorts LLC is the majority stakeholder in Walker’s Bluff Casino.
The land on which the casino stands belongs to Cynde Bunch and her family. The Bunches opened the upscale Walker’s Bluff restaurant and general store in 2008, and the family has a long history in the region.
The idea for a casino was therefore partly a grass roots initiative that came from the local community. However, as they did not have the resources or wherewithal to do it themselves, the family partnered with Elite Casino Resorts on the $147 million project.
“This collaboration has not only resulted in a state-of-the-art establishment, but has also empowered our community by driving economic growth and creating jobs,” said Elite CEO Dan Kehl.
“I’d also like to thank Cynde and the late David Bunch for bringing this project here.”
Located at 777 Walker’s Bluff Way, Carterville, IL, the casino is expected to provide employment for around 300 individuals.
In a gesture of commitment to the state’s development, the Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort also donated $25.3 million to the Rebuild Illinois fund on top of the taxes it will pay each year.
This initiative by Governor Pritzker is a multi-year capital improvement program aimed at renovating and building infrastructure across Illinois. The fund has already supported several projects in Southern Illinois, including new buildings at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and John A. Logan College in Carterville.
Future Prospects for Illinois’ Gaming Industry
Altogether, casinos in Illinois contribute around $30 million in taxes per month. However, the state wants more casinos to add to the pie. There are two more on the horizon as part of the gambling expansion initiative started by Governor Pritzker.
Once operational, Illinois will host a total of 16 casinos, excluding the anticipated casinos at Hawthorne Race Course and FanDuel Sportsbook & Horse Racing in Fairmount.
Bally’s temporary casino at The Medinah Temple in River North, set to open next month, will be replaced by a $1.74 billion permanent Bally’s Chicago casino by 2026.
Another addition, the Wind Creek casino, is scheduled to open in 2025 near the south suburban Chicago villages of Homewood and East Hazel Crest, close to the Indiana border. However it has faced lengthy delays, as reported earlier this month.