City of Waukegan, IL – Casino Socioeconomic Impact Assessment
SkillsMunicipal Impact Assessment, Casino Gaming Visitation and Revenue Forecast, Amenity Analysis, Fiscal Impacts, City Budget, Contract Negotiations
In 2022, Convergence Strategy Group was retained by the City of Waukegan, Illinois to evaluate the Illinois Gaming Board’s approved resort casino development for Waukegan, Full House Resorts’ American Place, including its potential social and economic impacts. CSG independently assessed the visitation and revenue potential for the 2,000-position gaming facility via a drive-time based gravity model for the regional population, as well as through modeling the potential capture of tourists visiting the area and nearby large-scale amusement park destinations. Post-pandemic changes in visitation and spending patterns were assessed, as well as the potential for long-term shifts in gamer behavior and the resulting impacts on the regional marketplace. The impact of pandemic related changes to the construction supply chain and labor market tightening were assessed, and their impacts on the project timeline quantified. The unique positioning of the property, its focus on the high-end gamer market, and non-standard amenity offerings were evaluated and their impacts on overall property viability quantified. CSG then evaluated the reasonableness of Full House Resorts’ internal projections for the facility and provided conservative projections to the City for use in negotiations with the developer for a Memorandum of Understanding, Host Community Agreement, and for City budgeting purposes. In addition to the City’s fiscal impacts from direct rent payments, gaming and other taxes, CSG estimated the impacts of the development on to the city’s businesses and schools, as well as municipal services such as fire and police.
CSG evaluated the potential direct impacts that such a project could have on Waukegan in terms of tax revenues and payments to the City, as well as secondary impacts on public safety, businesses and employment. The analysis was based on a combination of factors, including:
- CSG’s projection of annual casino visitation and gaming revenue generation;
- A review of the City’s annual budget;
- Interviews with City officials;
- Interviews with public safety officials in other casino jurisdictions;
- Research regarding casino impacts in other jurisdictions;
- Research of macroeconomic trends
Through extensive research, comparative analyses, and independent forecast models, CSG projected the potential impacts of the proposed development. The analysis demonstrates where impacts (positive, negative, or some combination of the two) may be expected and are quantified in terms of expected incremental costs or revenues to the city, where appropriate.