Illinois Casino Breaks Attendance Record, Boosts Revenue For Rockford

Written By Matt Boecker on August 19, 2022Last Updated on August 24, 2022
Thanks to a record, July when 45,000 guest visited the temporary Hard Rock casino in Rockford, the benefits to the Illinois town are growing.

Rockford’s Hard Rock: An Opening Act had a record-breaking month in July, which is good news for the casino and the community as a whole.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) reported that 45,000 guests visited Hard Rock in July, the most since the temporary casino’s grand opening in Nov. 2021. Now, the city of Rockford is taking its tax revenue from Hard Rock and investing it into the community.

Rockford mayor Tom McNamara said he is happy the Hard Rock is performing as city officials hoped. He said the city is utilizing the revenue to build long-term value for residents.

Hard Rock’s tax revenue is paid out to Rockford and its neighboring areas as follows:

  • Rockford: 70%
  • Winnebago County: 20%
  • Loves Park: 5%
  • Machesney Park: 5%

Hard Rock Rockford’s success good for the city

In 2022 alone, Hard Rock earned over $1 million in tax revenue given back to Rockford. McNamara pointed out that before Hard Rock opened, there were no casinos in Illinois for the northern part of the state. McNamara said:

“Prior to this casino, not only did citizens want a casino for 30 years, but we had citizens going to Indiana, going to Wisconsin, going to Iowa to gamble. So all of this money was fleeing the state of Illinois and specifically fleeing the city of Rockford and I think we’re seeing right now how much of that money was fleeing.”

McNamara said the first $1.5 million the city got from Hard Rock was given to Rockford Promise to cover the next 17 years.

Rockford Promise is a non-profit organization offering full-tuition scholarships to graduates of Rockford Public School District 205. The goal of the group is to increase educational attainment in the city while providing economic incentives for citizens and businesses in the community.

Kaylene Goh, Rockford Promise’s interim executive director, said the money given by the city has been helpful in growing the organization’s outreach:

“We started in 2016 and we gave out five full tuition scholarships at that time and now, only six years later, we will have more than 300 scholars in college together all at the same time this year. So the city’s involvement and their commitment to our organization has had a huge impact for local scholars.”

Construction plan for the permanent casino

McNamara foresees construction on Hard Rock’s permanent home moving quickly once it starts. He said:

“I think you’re going to be seeing land moved and leveled by the end of this year. I think you’ll see really the bulk of construction begin very early next spring.”

The permanent gaming site is projected to open sometime in 2023, though Hard Rock and Rockford officials haven’t given a firm timeframe for the long-term casino’s grand opening.

Until the main site is up and rocking, bettors are treated to the Opening Act.

It features 37,000-square-feet of gaming space filled with 625 slot machines and electronic table games.

Drink and dining options include the Rock River Bar and Grill or the Midway Bar.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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