Plans for an “economic development engine” are starting to take shape after last Monday’s information meeting, hosted jointly with East Hazel Crest.
While specific details, such as revenue approximations and casino concepts are slated to be answered later on in the process, the village is sketching a vision of what a future Homewood casino might look like.
The casino will bring along with it an entire entertainment package, including a South Suburban hotel, according to the village’s legal counsel Craig Burkhardt. With that package comes about 1,000 jobs, according to Burkhardt.
“These are good, solid, highly-paying jobs that support families that send their kids to college,” Burkhardt said.
The issue of security and fear of an increased crime rate is a major concern for many residents. Burkhardt based his answer to those concerns on past experience.
He grew up in Homewood and played ball at Izaak Walton Preserve—in the shadow of the former Washington Park Racetrack. Burkhardt says the pristine reputation and character of Homewood remained unscathed then and there’s no reason the same shouldn’t apply now. On the contrary, Burkhardt credited Washington Park with funding many of the things he enjoyed in his youth, like musical education.
The villages aren’t relying entirely on precedent. In addition to state of the art security at the actual casino, money will go directly to Homewood first responders for the addition of extra officers and firefighters.
Revenue from the casino will also reach Homewood School District 153, H-F High School, H-F Parks, the library and beyond, according to Burkhardt.
“It would … endow a lot of things that are very important to us,” Burkhardt said. “This can be expansively beneficial across the South Suburbs.”
More details on this will come once the village puts out a request for proposals (RFP). At that point, one of about 15 national casino companies will vie for our interest, leaving the village in the enviable position to pick the best choice for us. Once a partnership is reached, the casino will reimburse Homewood and East Hazel Crest for all the incurred expenses of the process thus far.
That’s still months away, though, and even if everything did go according to plan, a casino might not break ground for several years.
“This is just the very, very beginning process,” Burkhardt said. “There will be much more opportunity for people to directly … participate in an exchange of ideas.”