City leaders optimistic about possible casino’s impact

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A casino could actually be coming to Danville as part of the Sports Betting and Casino Expansion bill passed yesterday.

You’ve heard that before, but city leaders are hopeful this time will be different. That’s because Governor Pritzker has said several times he will sign the bill. This is something many people have wanted for more than 10 years.     

There has been talk about it going downtown, but nothing’s set in stone. No matter where it goes, city leaders say they’re confident the city will be better because of it. 
“It’s not about the gambling so much for me, it’s the economic – the jobs: thousands and thousands of jobs, plus the supply jobs with it,” said Rick Harper. Harper started a Facebook group in support of the casino. It has thousands of members who are behind the idea. 

While some have said they’re worried getting one could mean more crime, Harper believes it will mean more good than bad. 

“I think any large venue has a natural increase in crime with it just because there’s more people around with it.”

Amy McKinley helps downtown businesses through her position with Downtown Danville, Inc. McKinley hopes the casino will be built downtown, but either way, she says it will encourage other businesses nearby to improve and grow. 

“More people will think, ’Oh gosh it’s time to invest. It’s time to, you know, fix up buildings, purchase buildings, that sort of thing,'” said McKinley. 

A casino has the potential to bring around one and a half million visitors to the city every year. 

“Maybe the husband loves to go to casinos, but the wife doesn’t like it much, so she comes and hits our antique stores and our little boutique shops,” said Danville Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Jeanie Cooke. 

Many are crossing their fingers that this is the answer Danville has been looking for. 

“Danville population has been decreasing; the whole morale of the town has been going down, but I think this is really the shot in the arm that the community needs,” said Harper. 

Danville Mayor Rickey Williams didn’t want to comment today, but he’ll be discussing the casino license tomorrow at city council. 

In 2004, a study was done on the possible economic impact of the casino. The estimate was 650 to 750 jobs. It also would bring about one and a half million visitors every year. The estimate was those people would bring in up to 60 million dollars a year. Remember, those are 2004 numbers.

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