Penn Entertainment’s Expansion in Illinois and Nevada Breaks Ground

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Penn Entertainment has had a busy end to 2023. The Pennsylvania-based gambling operator this week announced the groundbreaking of the final two projects in its ambitious four-venue expansion plan.

The plans have seen work begin on casinos in Illinois, Nevada, and Ohio. The plans are now in motion just weeks after Penn also debuted its new ESPN Bet sportsbook venture.

This week’s announcements covered the groundbreaking of the relocation of the Hollywood Casino Joliet from riverboat to permanent venue, and the beginning of construction on a new hotel tower at Penn’s M Resort Spa Casino. The latter was done to help it keep up with the booming competition in the Nevada casinos market.

These two projects join Penn’s ongoing efforts to move former riverboat venue Hollywood Casino Aurora inland, and back a $100 million upgrade to Hollywood Casino Columbus as part of the wider expansion plan.

Hollywood Joliet Moving Inland

The first announcement from Penn this week was on the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hollywood Casino Joliet in Illinois.

This $185 million project will see the transition of the existing riverboat casino to a new land-based facility in the same community.  

The new casino will be located adjacent to the Interstate 80 and Interstate 55 interchange in Joliet, forming the heart of the RockRun Collection, a large commercial and residential development.

Between the Interstate highways, Penn says some 200,000 vehicles will pass by the casino daily.

The facility is expected to feature 850 slots, 44 live table games, a baccarat room, various bars and restaurants, a 10,000-square-foot event center, and approximately 1,330 parking spaces.

It will also include a new venue for the list of Illinois retail sportsbooks, which will presumably use Penn’s shiny new ESPN Bet branding.

The project will create 450 construction jobs and 515 permanent positions, expanding Penn’s current team in Joliet by 150 members.

The construction is estimated to take around 24 months, during which the existing Hollywood Casino Joliet will maintain normal operations​​.

“We are very excited to be moving forward with construction on a new, state-of-the-art Hollywood Casino Joliet in an ideal location,” said Jay Snowden, CEO and president of Penn Entertainment.

“Our close proximity to two interstates and surrounding mixed-use development will offer our modern facility with exceptional visibility and accessibility in the highly attractive Chicagoland market.”

M Resort’s Expansion in Southern Las Vegas

Penn also announced this week it is enhancing its presence in Nevada with the construction of a second tower at the M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson, just south of the Las Vegas Strip.

The $206 million project, part of a larger $850 million expansion plan for the future, will add 384 rooms to the property, doubling its capacity to 774 rooms and suites.

This expansion will include updated amenities, expanded meeting spaces, and new local partnerships.

The M Resort, located about 10 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, is the sole Las Vegas-area property operated by Penn Entertainment, following the 2021 sale of the Tropicana’s operating rights to Bally’s.

This expansion underscores the importance of the M Resort in Penn Entertainment’s portfolio, especially considering Henderson’s status as one of the largest suburbs of Las Vegas, making it ideal for a local’s market casino.

M Resort VP and GM Hussain Mahrous spoke at the groundbreaking on Monday.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating this day with our team members and key stakeholders,” Mahrous said.

“We look forward to hiring new team members and expanding the wonderful offerings that make M Resort a premier destination for visitors and convention attendees from across the country.”

Construction on the hotel is expected to take 18 months, during which M Resort’s existing operations will be unaffected.

The Las Vegas locals-oriented casino market was recently bolstered by the opening of Durango Casino Resort, which was briefly the newest casino in Sin City before this week’s long-awaited opening of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas.

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