‘This will bring a new vitality to the city’ – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Kevin Tuohy of Antioch was one of a few hundred “friends and family” of people affiliated with The Temporary by American Place who got to gamble Tuesday as part of two play dates ahead of the casino’s opening Friday.

“I played Paigow and won $100,” Tuohy said, referring to one of three types of poker games played against the house. “Then I went to the slots and lost $100. It was a lot of fun.”

Edgar Lupian of Waukegan was feeling very good as he ate dinner with Waukegan resident Rigo Gutierrez at the one of the casino’s three restaurants, and the only one serving Tuesday. He just left the roulette table.

“I came with $100, and I’m leaving with $740,” Lupin said. “I had really good luck here. I can’t wait to come back.”

Alex Stolyar, the senior vice president and chief development officer of American Place owner Full House Resorts, said the play dates were part of the pre opening tuneup before the casino got final approval to open from the Illinois Gaming Board.

“They’re private gaming sessions that allow us to test our control and processes to make sure everything runs smoothly,” Stolyar said.

People shoot craps at The Temporary by American Place in Waukegan in this promotional photo provided by Full House Resorts.

On Thursday, the gaming board gave its final approval for the casino to open.

The Temporary by American Place officially opens at 8 p.m. Friday near the Fountain Square shopping center in Waukegan bringing casino gambling to Lake County, and with it a hoped for economic boost for the area.

Stolyar said once the casino opens, it will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the permanent American Place resort and casino opens in approximately three years.

“It feels great,” Stolyar said, thinking back on the more than a year of effort since the gaming board gave Full House the opportunity to open a casino in Waukegan. “We’ve got a great staff. They’ve gone through a lot of training. I’m excited to finally see this.”

At one end of the rectangular casino are three restaurants, and at the other end a sportsbook with 18 television screens. The sportsbook is scheduled to open in a few month. Lining the walls on much of both sides, as well as located in other locations around the room, are 1,000 slot machines.

Some of the slot machines are the traditional type with three rollers, while many others are an electronic combination of slot machine and video game. Jeff Babinski, the casino’s vice president and general manager, said the modern games have become very popular.

“Some of them are based on things like ‘Game of Thrones,’” Babinski said, referring to the television show. “People watched the show and like the game. They like the high-definition experience.”

People will walk through these doors to gamble and dine at the The Temporary by American Place in Waukegan.

Close to the entrance are some of the 50 table games. There will be 28 operating at opening. Stolyar said more will be added as additional dealers are hired.

There are 13 blackjack tables, four craps tables, two roulette wheels, four baccarat tables and three tables for different forms of poker — Paigow Poker, Mississippi Stud and Ultimate Texas Holdem.

Along with gambling, visitors have a choice of three restaurants — North Shore Steak & Seafood, Asian Azteca and a casual American eatery. There is a large bar in the center, with video poker games and coffee kiosks located in two places.

Babinski said there are 350 employees, with a goal of reaching 500 in the near future. Hiring is ongoing. Those without experience will be trained to be dealers, or handle other tasks. Pay is competitive at nearby places of employment like Amazon, Medline and Visual Pak, casino officials said.

“We had a dealer school boot camp,” Babinski said. “We taught them all the games. If they made it fully through and were hired full-time, they got a $2,080 bonus. We give them a $60,000 guarantee their first year. There’s more with tips.”

Patrons can watch sports and play video poker at the Canoe Bar at The Temporary by American Place in Waukegan as depicted in this promotional photo provided by Full House Resorts.

One person who did not need the boot camp is Kathryn Deldotto of Grayslake. She was a dealer for 23 years at a casino in Elgin, stopped working there when the coronavirus pandemic shuttered casinos and came out of retirement to work for American Place.

“I feel great to be back and working here,” Deldoto said. “I didn’t think I would, but I get to work real close to home.”

Former Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham was playing at a craps table during the Tuesday play date. He said he was enjoying the evening, and is excited about what the casino will bring to Waukegan. Some in the city have waited nearly two decades for it to become a reality.

“I’m excited for Waukegan and Lake County,” Cunningham said. “We’ve waited many years for this. This will bring a new vitality to the city. I’m looking forward to what it will do for the people. And, hey, I’m winning tonight.”

Stolyar said design work is already underway for the permanent development. He hopes to start construction in six months. He said plans for the resort and casino include 1,640 slots, 100 table games and a sportsbook.

For those who want a luxurious resort experience, there will be a hotel with 20 large suites approximately 1,500 square feet in size. A 1,500-seat entertainment venue with concerts, comedy and other forms of entertainment is also on the drawing board. There will also be four full-service restaurants.

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