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New Illinois casino resort opens up downstate

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(The Center Square) – The Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort, which brings hundreds of rooms, gambling and restaurants to the downstate area, is now open in Carterville.

Walker’s Bluff was granted a gaming license in 2021, leading to a nearly $160 million construction project to bring entertainment and jobs to the southern part of the state.

Casino owner Cynde Bunch discussed the state’s progress on opening the casino ahead of schedule.

“Twenty months ago, I said at the groundbreaking that it would take us four years to get here,” Bunch said. “We are here in 20 months.”

Bunch thanked legislators for their work on the project and said she is pleased with how it has gone.

“[Gov. J.B. Pritzker] came here in 2019 to sign the bill, and that was the biggest thing for me that it finally happened, but actually, this is the biggest thing so far,” Bunch said. “I am very happy.”

Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton spoke at the ribbon-cutting event and said the project’s opening is an essential day for Southern Illinois.

“There are people who are going to be working here in those jobs that have been created that will be able to put food on their tables and take care of their families because of this opportunity,” Stratton said.

In December 2021, the sponsor of the legislation to bring the casino to life, state Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg, said the project will invest in a community that needs it.

“Today’s groundbreaking ceremony is a sign for hundreds of new jobs to come and will put a much-needed investment back into our local economy,” Fowler said.

According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security unemployment in Central Southern Illinois was the highest in the state for July.

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