Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan, the city of Waukegan anticipates the construction of a gaming edifice that seeks to redefine luxury—the American Place. Visionary in scope and impeccable in its promise of opulence, Full House Resorts’ $400 million jewel aims to offer an unparalleled experience, attracting connoisseurs of high-stakes play and sumptuous leisure. Yet, as the cards were about to be dealt, a twist in the saga emerged, halting the audacious dream from taking physical form.
In the competitive dance for Waukegan’s singular gaming license, Las Vegas’s own Full House Resorts emerged triumphant. The Illinois Gaming Board, with the assent of the state’s keen-eyed legislators, bestowed upon American Place its blessing in December 2021. Thus was laid the groundwork for a venue that would not just host games of chance, but curate an atmosphere of exclusivity, a realm where the VIP player would reign supreme.
The curtain rose early with “The Temporary by American Place,” a precursor to the grandeur yet to be fully realized. Since February 2023, this interim establishment has whetted appetites with the spirited sound of slot machines and the deft shuffle of cards on felt tables. Even the pulse of sports betting thrummed within its walls a month hence, a herald of the all-encompassing entertainment American Place strives to provide.
Alas, just as the blueprint for the permanent resort was unfurled before planning and zoning officials, a specter from the bidding battleground re-emerged. The Forest County Potawatomi Community, with the echo of ancient drums beating strong in their lawsuit, claimed foul play. The heart of their homeland beats some 45 air miles north in Milwaukee, and Waukegan stood poised as an eminent outpost in their economic empire. But their bid, though laced with competitive spirit, was not favored by the officiators of Waukegan, leading to whispers of a process “rigged” and “a sham.”
In a theatre of contention, Cook County Judge Cecilia Horan wielded the gavel that initially silenced the Potawatomi’s protestations in December 2021. Yet, upon the stage of the First District Appellate Court, a sudden reprisal—a granted appeal—forced the American Place dreamers to halt, to wait.
Now, a game of a different sort unfolds in the hallowed halls of the Illinois Supreme Court. As jurists ponder and attorneys parley, Full House stands aside, uninvolved yet ensnared by the suspense of the outcome. Meanwhile, the General Assembly, with the stroke of legislative quills, crafts a possible extension for the ephemeral veneer of American Place, ensuring that the spirit of the game lives on even as the permanence of its domain remains uncertain.
In the interim, American Place, even in its temporary guise, beckons the elite. Gourmet cuisine will tantalize the palate, and the echo of applause will rise from a 1,500-seat coliseum of entertainment. Above all, “The Mansion,” a hotel of only 20 rooms, extends an invitation exclusively to those who best understand the language of luxury. Each suite, each villa—expanding grandly to 2,500 square feet—is a sanctuary for those who have made the turn of a card, the roll of a die, a way of life.
Thus, Waukegan waits, breath bated, for the day when American Place transcends from vision to vivid reality, and from the legal mire, a palace for the astute gamer is finally born.