Golden Nugget Danville Casino Already Helps Charities, Public Pensions

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The Golden Nugget Danville Casino opened last May in the Illinois town. Since then, revenue from the property has been a boon to local charities and previously ailing public pensions.

The Golden Nugget in Danville, Ill. The new casino is contributing to public pensions and local charities.(Image:

While the city forecasts $2 million in yearly receipts in casino revenue alone, the Golden Nugget delivered $1.332 million in just six months of operation, indicating the venue could surpass prior estimates for Danville revenue.

Golden Nugget Danville operated under temporary licenses until last October, when it was granted permanent status by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). The casino is a joint venture between the Wilmot family and Tilman Fertitta, whose Fertitta Entertainment Inc. (FEI) controls the Golden Nugget brand.

The new gaming venue is already contributing to “funding for riverfront development, city sewer upgrades, construction of an addition to the Boys and Girls Club, and paying down city fire and police pensions,” reports Dave Hinton for The News-Gazette.

Golden Nugget Provides Pensions Assist

Illinois is home to some of the most underfunded, highest obligation public pension systems in the U.S. Though dwarfed by Chicago, the state’s largest city, Danville isn’t immune to that trend.

It’s estimated that 80 cents of every $1 in casino revenue that flows to Danville is being allocated to shore up firefighter and police retirement plans. Danville is subject to an Illinois mandate that its firefighter and police pensions be 90% funded by 2040. It’s estimated that annual contributions from Golden Nugget Danville could amount to 10% to 12% of the city’s budget, potentially providing significant relief for the strained retirement plans.

Mayor Rickey Williams, Jr. said the plan is to get 100% funding by 2040, beating the 90% requirement. That’s an ambitious goal, and one that’s likely to require contributions from sources beyond the Golden Nugget.

With the help of the new casino and some other increased revenue sources, funding for Danville’s police pensions rose 1.93% in the 2022-23 fiscal year, while funding for the firefighters’ retirement program rose 1.5%.

Danville also earns $1 for each person who enters the Golden Nugget, according to the News-Gazette.

Not All New Illinois Casinos Delivering

While the Golden Nugget Danville Casino is delivering the goods in terms of help to Danville’s budget, retirement plans, and local charities, the same isn’t true of all new Illinois gaming venues.

The temporary version of Bally’s Chicago — which is located in Medinah Temple in the River North neighborhood — drove just $3.1 million in revenue to the Windy City from its September opening through the end of last year. That was well short of the $12.8 million expected.

Bally’s Chicago is expected to deliver exponentially higher revenue growth for the city over the next two years and when it enters its permanent venue in 2026. However, that effort may be delayed by water pipe issues at the Freedom Center, the site of the permanent gaming venue, where the hotel tower was originally supposed to be constructed.

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