Potawatomi Suit Defying Waukegan Bid Process Resuscitated
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a lawsuit disputing the bidding process for Illinois’ Waukegan casino license has been reinvigorated on appeal and sent back to the original court for review. Despite the victorious bidder launching a provisional casino in the designated space six months ago, the lawsuit is still being debated.
In October 2019, the Forest County Potawatomi Community of Wisconsin sued the city of Waukegan, alleging that they did not receive a fair opportunity to submit a tender for the proposed $400 million casino complex called “American Place,” slated to open by early 2026. The tribe’s lawsuit insisted that the process for selecting the contenders was “rigged.” The city council selected three applicants, which were then narrowed down into one winner: Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts. However, the tribe contends that this was a flawed process. (Image: Full House Resorts)
The Potawatomi Tribe has filed a lawsuit alleging that former Waukegan Mayor Sam Cunningham had partiality in favor of ex-state senator Michael Bond’s proposal in a seperate federal lawsuit. Furthermore, the suit claims that the Waukegan City Council made their decision based on an “inaccurate” report prepared by Johnson Consultants, which didn’t include an acceptable valuation of the tribe’s contribution of building the entertainment destination, Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, Wis. – one of the biggest in the Midwest and recieving six million visitors per year.
According to the Johnson Consultants report, the tribe was projected to pay $5.6 million for the plot, the least expensive bid. However, the tribe insists it never gave this estimate and later added materials reinforcing their offer of $12 million. Unfortunately, this extra information was not taken into consideration by the ‘Scorched Earth’ report.
The city’s lawyers had originally dismissed the complaint as a “scorched earth lawsuit [that] was factually suspect”, but Illinois’ First District Appellate Court disagreed and ruled the lower court wrong for lacking standing and the tribe deserved a chance to prove their case in court. In the ruling, Justice Raymond Mitchell stated that “Potawatomi Casino pursued a significant business opportunity to compete for a casino license, and where that opportunity was denied due to the city’s alleged illegal action, there is a clear and tangible injury”. Furthermore he declared that it would be acceptable for the city to renew the tender process if the tribe were to win the suit, even though a temporary license had previously been issued to Full House Resorts.
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