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Hard Rock casino in Illinois breaks ground

Hard Rock executives and local officials, including Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara (fourth from right) and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen (in black cap), took to the stage for the groundbreaking ceremony. (Image via Twitter)

Hard Rock International broke ground Sept. 28 on the Hard Rock Casino Rockford in Illinois, about a year after opening a temporary casino.

Hard Rock executives, city leaders and Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen attended the event. The activity comes after the Illinois Gaming Board gave the go ahead in early September for utility and foundation work to begin on the project.

“Just last week Hard Rock approved a more than $3 dollar increase in the minimum wage for all of their non-tipped employees,” Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara told local TV news station WIFR. “It shows that they’re not only a wonderful community partner, [but] they’re really working to be one of the best employees in town.”

Hard Rock Rockford is a $310 million project at the city’s former Clock Tower Resort and Conference Center site, about seven miles from downtown Rockford.

“Our [temporary casino] in Rockford has been fantastic, but I know the entire Rockford community is just as excited as we are for the main show,” Jon Lucas, COO of Hard Rock International, said in a news release. “From the very start, Rockford’s energy has surpassed expectations and it’s no secret they are really ready to rock.”

Officials said the temporary casino – a $65 million investment itself – has generated more than $25 million in revenue since it opened in November 2021.

Hard Rock Rockford is expected to feature 64,000 square feet of gaming space with 1,500 slots, 55 tables and a sports book, a variety of dining options and a 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue. Officials said the project should create about 1,000 temporary and permanent jobs.

Officials didn’t immediately provide a timeline for opening, but have previously said it would take 18-to-24 months to complete. Plans also call for the addition of a hotel.

Meanwhile, about two hours away, Hard Rock opened the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in May 2021. The $300 million casino is located in Gary, home to the iconic music group the Jackson 5. The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International. More is at

An updated rendering of the Hard Rock Casino Rockford in Illinois. (Hard Rock)
Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at