By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — You’ll soon be able to place your bets on sporting events at Rockford Casino: A Hard Rock Opening Act.
The Illinois Gaming Board on Thursday granted Hard Rock a license to begin operating a sports book in-person and online. Hard Rock said it hopes to integrate the sports book in a couple months.
“We are excited to add sports betting as the latest amenity to Hard Rock Casino Rockford — The Opening Act. We are very appreciative of the IGB’s hard work and diligence to get us to this point,” Geno Iafrate, president of Hard Rock Rockford, said in an emailed statement. “We still have work to do as we finalize our internal controls and begin hiring and training. We are hopeful to launch sports betting within the next couple of months.”
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The addition of sports gambling could give another shot in the arm to the interim casino at 610 N. Bell School Road, which had three of its four highest-revenue earning months this year after adding live table games in April. That includes a record $6.25 million in gross gambling revenue in April, according to Illinois Gaming Board data.
The casino’s revenue is up nearly 32% through the first six months of this year compared to last year, according to state data. It has brought in $33.6 million in gross gambling revenue through June compared to $25.5 million at that time last year.
Those revenues have generated $1.98 million in local taxes through June this year and $5.68 million in taxes since the casino opened in November 2021.
Meanwhile, construction continues at Hard Rock’s future casino at Interstate 90 and East State Street. The 180,000-square-foot casino is expected to open in August 2024.