The Illinois Gaming Board voted Monday to give the state's unused casino license to a company that wants to build a gambling boat in suburban Des Plaines, rejecting a higher bid from one that wanted to build in neighboring Rosemont because the village is "tainted."
The board voted 3-1 at a meeting in Chicago to award the license that has languished for years in legal limbo to Midwest Gaming & Entertainment.
"It will be a fantastic facility," Midwest Gaming chairman Neil Bluhm said.
One Gaming Board member declined to vote for any of the three finalists, which also included Trilliant Gaming for Rosemont and Waukegan Gaming.
"They, each in their own way, are unacceptable," said the Rev. Eugene Winkler.
Trilliant's bid was the highest with an upfront licensing fee of $435 million, followed by Waukegan Gaming at $225 million and Midwest Gaming at $125 million. Midwest Gaming's bid also included an additional $300 million to be paid at about $10 million per year over 30 years.
Trilliant's plan to locate in Rosemont was a stumbling block that Gaming Board members couldn't sidestep. A Chicago suburb near O'Hare International Airport, Rosemont has spent years trying to lure a casino amid allegations of possible mob ties.
"Rosemont is tainted by reputation," Gaming Board member Charles Gardner said.
Waukegan Mayor Richard Hyde blasted the board's decision to overlook his community for the license that the northern Illinois city was counting on to speed up its redevelopment. His city will press on.
"I'm not going to quit just because ... some people made a tremendous mistake," Hyde said.
Gaming board members acknowledged Waukegan was a needy community, but they expressed reservations about the bid submitted by the company that wanted to build there.