|By Ryan Haggerty, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 14, 2012--A Nevada-based casino development company revealed plans Tuesday for a $250 million casino and hotel in Country Club Hills, a location that proponents say would draw gamblers from throughout the south suburbs.
However, the proposal faces two hurdles before construction can begin: state lawmakers and Gov. Pat Quinn must first approve gambling expansion legislation that would allow for five new casinos in the Chicago area, and Country Club Hills must be granted a license for one of the casinos.
Lawmakers have twice approved measures to allow five casinos for Chicago, Rockford, Danville, the south suburbs and Park City in Lake County. The first bill never made it to Quinn's desk after he threatened to veto it.
Quinn vetoed the second bill in August and has repeatedly shown distaste for the plan.
Despite the uncertain prospects of gambling expansion in Illinois, the developer behind the Country Club Hills proposal said he's optimistic that the legislation eventually will be approved.
"We just wanted to let everybody know that there is someone in the south suburbs that is ready, has an association with a great town and has incredible partners, and that financially we can get it done," said Bill Paulos, a co-founder of Millennium Gaming, the majority owner of Cannery Casino Resorts.
Cannery owns and operates two casinos in the Las Vegas area and another outside Pittsburgh.
The Country Club Hills proposal includes a casino, parking garage and 200-room hotel that would be built on vacant land at the northeast corner of South Cicero Avenue and 175th Street, near Interstates 57 and 80.
The land is controlled by Lafayette Gatling Sr. and his wife, Marguerite, who own several businesses and claim to have the nation's largest African-American-owned and operated funeral home, Gatling's Chapel in Chicago.
The Gatlings would be partners in the development.
Even if gambling expansion is approved, Country Club Hills would have to vie with other suburbs for the license for a south suburban location.
Ford Heights also has a developer and location lined up, and dozens of towns spanning six townships -- from Calumet City to Chicago Ridge -- would be allowed to make a pitch to the Illinois Gaming Board.
But Country Club Hills Mayor Dwight Welch said his suburb's proposal is best because of its central location and because Paulos says the casino could be open only 18 months after a license is approved.
"We've got to win this license," Welch said at a news conference at the site, standing with Paulos and other backers of the proposal. "It's our turn, there's no question about it."
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services