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The above rendering shows the proposed Hard Rock casino in Rockford at the former site of the Clock Tower Resort adjacent to Interstate 39/90.

ROCKFORD—The Rockford casino project took another step forward on Thursday as the Illinois Gaming Board approved the final license for the permanent Hard Rock casino site near Interstate 39/90.

The unanimous approval by the Illinois Gaming Board comes as the Ho-Chunk Nation’s Beloit casino-resort proposal remains pending with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The tribe is waiting on the final transfer of land into trust status prior to ground breaking in Beloit. Officials estimate initial site construction could start sometime this year, but the timeline is dependent on the federal land transfer.

In Illinois, six new casinos were approved in the gaming expansion legislation approved in 2019, with Rockford’s proposal being the first to reach many steps needed in the process, according to the City of Rockford.

The Hard Rock casino is “targeting a spring groundbreaking” for the permanent casino site. Currently a temporary gaming facility, known as Rockford Casino: A Hard Rock Opening Act, is open for gaming operations.

The temporary facility has seen strong revenue figures since opening two months ago. In November and December of 2021, the casino brought in over $8.46 million in revenue, data from the Illinois Gaming Board shows. In the first 22 days of opening, Rockford’s temporary casino brought in over $4.14 million in revenue. In total, the Illinois Gaming Board requires payments of over $1 million in state taxes and $504,361 in local taxes. The temporary facility does not have table games and has over 600 slot machines and electronic table games.

In response to questions regarding whether the Beloit facility would have a temporary casino location, a Ho Chunk tribe spokesperson declined to comment.

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