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Hard Rock Rockford to open temporary casino

A rendering of the Hard Rock Casino Rockford in Illinois. (Hard Rock)

Officials say plans for the new Hard Rock Casino Rockford in northern Illinois have been moving forward at a steady clip this year. A big step will include the opening of a temporary casino in November while the permanent development is being built.

Once complete, Hard Rock Rockford will be a $310 million development at the city’s former Clock Tower Resort and
Conference Center site, about seven miles from downtown. The temporary site – to be in use for 18 to 24 months – is located about a mile away at the former Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center on North Bell School Road – a $65 million investment itself.

Hard Rock officials said the temporary casino – with 736 slot machines – would be used to excite guests and attract new employees and vendors to service the permanent casino, which is expected to bring between 800 and 1,000 permanent jobs and 1,200 temporary construction jobs.

Hard Rock Rockford will feature 64,000 square feet of gaming space, restaurants and bars, a 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live
entertainment venue, 1,500 slots, 55 tables and a sports book, among other features and amenities.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker previously signed legislation – the Rebuild Illinois Act – that provided Hard Rock a casino license for Rockford in June 2019. The law authorized the licensing of new casinos in Rockford and five other Illinois cities. In Oct. 2019, the Rockford City Council selected Hard Rock as its sole choice from three casino proposals. The Illinois Gaming Board then had until Oct. 2020, to approve the license – however, it granted itself a six-month extension due to the pandemic. The board granted a preliminary license approval in Feb. 2021, and in June 2021 issued a casino supplier license allowing construction to start on both the temporary and permanent facilities.

Officials expect the permanent casino to be completed in 18-to-24 months. Plans also call for the addition of a hotel at the site, however a timeline is not yet available.

Meanwhile, about two hours away, Hard Rock opened the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana on May 14. 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 hardrockcasinorockford.com.

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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 damonscott@semtribe.com.
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