Hollywood Casino Aurora’s Inland Move Breaks Ground

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Penn Entertainment has announced a groundbreaking ceremony for the relocation of its Hollywood Casino Aurora in Illinois (pictured).

Key figures from the Illinois Gaming Board, the city council, and local labor unions will be present at the new site on November 29 to mark the commencement of building.

The casino is shifting from a riverboat to land-based gambling operations after a licensing agreement was reached earlier this year.

“We are thrilled to soon begin construction on a new, state-of-the-art Hollywood Casino Aurora,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and president of Penn Entertainment, in a press release.

“Our tremendous and long-lasting partnership with the City of Aurora has provided an opportunity to relocate our property to an ideal location that will significantly improve our offerings and further our positive economic impact on the community.”

Hollywood Casino Aurora’s New Era

Set to take place on November 29, 2023, the groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of construction of a brand new, $360 million venue.

Casinos in Illinois were legalized in 1990, but only for riverboat venues, in respect of cultural gambling traditions in the state.

However, over the years, most riverboat venues, including Penn’s Hollywood Casino Aurora, have basically become permanent casinos that rarely, if ever, leave where they are docked.

Now that Illinois casino gambling is more widely legal, and companies like Bally’s are planning massive multibillion casino resorts, Penn felt it was time for its two riverboat casinos to move inland.

Hollywood Casino Aurora, which opened in 1993 and was later acquired by Penn in 2003, has been operating as a riverboat casino on the Fox River for nearly 30 years.

Penn received a state license for the transition earlier this year, as well as one to move fellow Illinois venue Hollywood Casino Joliet inland.

The relocated Hollywood Casino Aurora will be developed adjacent to the Chicago Premium Outlets.

The new facility will feature approximately 1,200 gaming positions, 220 guest rooms, an entertainment area, a full-service spa, plus high-quality bars, restaurants, and an event center.

The project will also feature a new addition to Illinois retail sportsbooks, presumably under Penn’s recently launched ESPN Bet brand.

The new Hollywood Casino Aurora development is expected to create 700 construction jobs and 700 permanent jobs once open. That will nearly doubling the company’s current workforce in Aurora.

The current riverboat venue will remain open during construction of the new facility, which is expected to take a year to 24 months to complete.

Busy Time for Penn

The relocation of Hollywood Casino Aurora is part of Penn Entertainment’s current ambitious expansion. That includes four new growth projects, one of which is Hollywood Aurora’s relocation.

Also on the list is a new hotel tower for its Hollywood Casino Columbus, Ohio, which broke ground on building this week.  

It is also planning to expand one of its two Nevada casinos, the M Resort Spa Casino in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson.

Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. has committed up to $575 million towards the overall $850 million budget for these projects.

The commencement of these expansion projects was most likely timed to begin shortly after the launch of Penn’s ESPN Bet.

The operator’s $1.5 billion bet on breaking into the top-tier of the U.S sport betting market with the veteran sports broadcaster is showing initial signs of paying off, but it’s still early.

Meanwhile, it can now move forward with these other projects. Including moving Hollywood Casino Aurora inland after 20 years on the river.

“We look forward to celebrating this important milestone with our team members and many key stakeholders that have helped bring us to this point,” said Greg Moore, VP & GM of Hollywood Casino Aurora.

“This is an exciting start to our next chapter, and we cannot wait to welcome residents and visitors of Chicagoland to the new Hollywood Casino Aurora when completed.”

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