Jackson County, Ill. (KFVS) - Elected officials, business leaders, and community leaders all gathered today to celebrate with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for Walker’s Bluff’s new casino license.
On Friday, Pritzker signed a $45 billion Rebuild Illinois Capital Plan that includes SB690, which legalizes sports wagering and expands gaming.
The gaming expansion legislation also enables the Walker’s Bluff Winery to move forward with resort expansion.
According to Walker’s Bluff CEO & Owner Cynde Bunch, the estimated $300 million project will bring hundreds of jobs to the region.
Bunch said she will not get financial support from the state, the project is a private investment.
Right now, what is set to be the future home of the resort and casino sits in Williamson County, however, Walker’s Bluff Winery is in Jackson County.
One couple that lives steps away from the winery believes the big new project right in their backyard is a good thing.
“It’s going to create jobs, we need jobs in southern Illinois. They also help the growth. We need the growth because everyone is moving outside of Illinois right now," Claude and Vickie Vaughn said.
However, they are also wary of the roadblocks.
“I’m a country boy and I like...not so much traffic, but I’ll get used to it. I’ll learn to deal with it,” Claude Vaughn said.
"It’s important for the region because it gives something to everyone,” Bunch said.
Bunch began the casino project eight years ago.
“There is no way that we ever gave up because we just kept saying, it will happen at some point. We will wear them down," Bunch said.
The project is estimated to bring 700 full-time jobs and more than 1,100 part-time jobs.
Illinois State Senator Dale Fowler said the process was not an easy one.
“You just have to never give up. As I mentioned there are so many emotional roller coasters, highs and lows to legislation of this magnitude.”
Walker’s Bluff officials are submitting their gaming license right now, then next comes the building stage. They hope to have the casino and convention center done by January 2021 with a groundbreaking around Labor Day 2019.
On Tuesday, Pritzker also traveled to Marion, Ill. to celebrate the impact infrastructure investments made possible by Rebuild Illinois will have across southern Illinois.