HOMEWOOD | The Village Board approved contract extensions for two firms assisting Homewood in acquiring a casino.
By a 4-0 vote with no public discussion, the Village Board approved a $27,000 payment to the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP, along with a $10,000 payment to William F. Mahar Inc.
Barnes & Thornburg is providing assistance to Homewood in terms of understanding the process that must be followed to open a legal casino in Illinois. Mahar is the lobbyist who is representing Homewood’s casino interests at the Statehouse in Springfield.
Mahar is a former state senator from the south suburbs, including Homewood, who served in the General Assembly from 1984 to 2002.
Village President Rich Hofeld said Mahar serves as the “whip” in terms of trying to influence the Legislature to act on a measure to approve a casino, while Barnes & Thornburg, “does all the rest of the things needed to prepare us to have a casino someday.”
Both contracts originally were approved by Homewood municipal officials last year, and Hofeld said they likely will be renewed each year until the General Assembly and an Illinois governor come to agreement on whether, and how, casinos should be expanded in Illinois.
Currently, there are 10 casinos licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. In recent years, there have been proposals that would create five more licenses — one of which would be specifically in Chicago and another in the Cook County south suburbs.
Homewood officials have said they’d like to have a casino at the southwest corner of Halsted Street and Interstate 80 on a site partially in East Hazel Crest. The two municipalities reached agreements last year to cooperate on their proposal.
Other communities in the south suburbs that have expressed interest in having a casino include Calumet City, Lynwood, Ford Heights and Country Club Hills.