Waukegan Casino License Stalled Due To Allegations Of Insider Dealings

by John McPhaul, The Chicago Times

November 19, 2019

WAUKEGAN, IL — The Illinois Gaming Board was expected to name the winner of the north suburban gambling license on Thursday, but the board deferred action due to an ongoing lawsuit that claims Waukegan officials “rigged” their selection process to favor a bid backed by a former state Sen. Michael Bond.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community filed a lawsuit against the City of Waukegan in 2019, shortly after the Wisconsin tribe was dropped from consideration as one of four bidders for the new casino. 

Waukegan advanced three applications, including the two remaining finalists under consideration by the Gaming Board: Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts and North Point Casino, managed by former Grayslake state Sen. Michael Bond, who also owns a slot machine business.

Potawatomi lawyers have questioned why they were rejected despite scoring well on a bid scoring system devised by a city-contracted consultant.

In a court statement last week, Potawatomi lawyers claimed former Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham directed aldermen which bids to approve were “the culmination of a rigged process.” Bond, through his video gambling machine company Tap Room Gaming, put thousands of dollars into local races ahead of the state gaming expansion.

Waukegan’s attorneys have denied Potawatomi’s assertions, stating in court filings that “this scorched earth lawsuit is factually suspect,” with the intention of stifling development and protecting the tribe’s Milwaukee casino from prospective competition.

At a meeting on Thursday, the Gaming Board was due to provide preliminary approval to one of the remaining casino applicants, but administrator Marcus Fruchter said the decision would be postponed indefinitely “out of respect for the judicial process.”