Over the weekend Illinois lawmakers passed a bill that would legalize sports betting and give out new gambling licenses to cities in the state.
The bill also included an amendment that would allow either a riverboat or land-based casino in East Peoria or Peoria, meaning only one license would be available.
State Representative Ryan Spain (R) Peoria says in the 90s both cities agreed to split revenue from the casino 50-50 and that if land-based casinos were ever legal in the state, the license for one would go to Peoria.
“There have been efforts in the last six or seven years to undo and not honor that commitment and we just thought it would be important that the terms of the 1991 agreement be honored by both parties,” Spain said.
The new video gaming bill would enforce this if Boyd Gaming, the company that owns the Par-A-Dice Hotel and Casino, decides to move. This means there can only be one licensed casino either on land or in the water.
“It simply says that if the Par-A-Dice wants to move to a land-based location that that location would be in the City of Peoria,” Spain said.
The split of revenues would stay the same but East Peoria State Representative Mike Unes claims Boyd Gaming has been against the bill.
“I couldn’t imagine them spending what would be minimum tens of millions, maybe more, of dollars, to build something new on the same base,” Unes said.
There is no word yet on if Boyd Gaming is interested in moving to Peoria. We reached out to them for comment, they did not get back to us.
“We’d be really happy to talk with the owners about that I think there is a lot of things a land-based casino has to offer a lot of other amenities to go along with it to make it better. If anything I would think a land-based casino would bring more revenue in for us to split,” Mayor of Peoria Jim Ardis said.