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Kane County, Grand Victoria fear impact of 10th casino
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/25/2008 12:02 AM

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Kane County officials Monday called on the Illinois Gaming Board to put all its cards on the table in awarding the 10th casino license.

Officials passed a resolution asking the gaming board to make a transparent decision in awarding the casino license, including a documented impact of the decision on area communities.

The vote came during proceedings that appeared to offer a backdoor endorsement to Waukegan's bid for the 10th license.

Officials paraded a line of organizations they said would see funding cuts if the other finalists, Rosemont and Des Plaines, win approval.

The impact would trickle down from the loss of gamblers the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin expects to experience with new competition in Rosemont or Des Plaines.

Grand Victoria Finance Director Michael Garipay said awarding of the new license to a community as close as Rosemont or Des Plaines would only shuffle casino clientele, not create a new revenue stream for the state.

A new casino in one of those communities could mean a 40 to 55 percent revenue loss, Garipay said.

"These figures are very disturbing to the Grand Victoria," he said.

They were just as disturbing to county officials and the organizations that benefit from the casino. The Grand Victoria gives back 20 percent of its profits to Elgin and the county for redistribution to social service agencies, education and environmental improvements.

Over the last 12 years, the casino has donated about $110 million to the county, nearly $19 million in just the past three years.

The county has used about a third of that money for farmland preservation. Another third has funded programs at the Kane County Courthouse, including juvenile justice programs and the largest drug court in the state.

Thousands more has gone to individual projects at area schools, YMCAs and other not-for-profits.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Garipay said there's no doubt the 10th license will be awarded, most likely in 2009. Taking it as a foregone conclusion, Garipay said a winning bid from Waukegan would have the least impact on the Grand Victoria because it is furthest away.

"There's no doubt that even in Waukegan, just based on the location, it is going to have a negative impact on the Grand Victoria and any recipients of the money we would donate," Garipay said. "But it would be significantly less."