Rivers Casino clearing final hurdles to opening

 
 
Updated 7/13/2011 5:20 AM
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  • The new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opens Monday with more than 1,050 slots machines starting at a penny.

      The new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines opens Monday with more than 1,050 slots machines starting at a penny. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • A baccarat table is just one of 48 table games ready for players at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which opens on Monday.

      A baccarat table is just one of 48 table games ready for players at the new Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which opens on Monday. Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

Representatives of the Illinois Gaming Board conducted a mock practice session at the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines Tuesday, gambling with monopoly money to test whether the equipment is functioning.

That clears the way for the casino to receive a temporary license to operate within the next two days. The approval should come in time for Monday's planned public grand opening of the casino, as well as private preview parties for Des Plaines residents on Friday and VIPs on Sunday, Illinois Gaming Board spokesman Eugene O'Shea said.

The casino could technically operate under a temporary license for years, though the Gaming Board is expected to grant the casino a permanent license in August, O'Shea said.

And on Tuesday afternoon, the Des Plaines building department granted the final occupancy permit and city officials issued the business license.

"All the life-safety issues are taken care of," city building inspector Butch Ehrke said. "As far as we're concerned, we're ready to go."

Des Plaines fire officials have inspected the casino property to ensure the site, which until a few weeks ago was a construction zone, is safe, said Jeff Schuck of the city's Fire Prevention Bureau.

Officials tested the fire alarm system, including every smoke detector, pull station, fire pump, and sprinkler in the building, Schuck said.

"We did our walk-through a couple of weeks ago," he said. "For the most part, they are good-to-go as far as life-safety is concerned."

The $445 million Rivers Casino, 3000 S. River Road, is situated on roughly 20 acres off Des Plaines River Road between Touhy and Devon avenues. The 147,000-square-foot casino property includes a 44,000-square-foot gambling floor with 1,050 gambling positions, 48 table games, several restaurants, and 2,300 self-parking spaces and valet service.

Roughly 500 Des Plaines residents will get a sneak peek of the property from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, and about 1,000 VIPs, including investors are invited for an exclusive party from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Guests will be allowed to gamble with real money and sample food and beverages from Hugo's Frog Bar and Chop House, Canopy buffet, FLIPT casual grill, MianBar Asian noodle shop, Lotus cocktail lounge and The Coffee Spot.

Sunday's entertainment will be led by Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts band and the musical group of vocalist and violinist Alizma. There also will be performances by Redmoon theater artists and a candy sculptor.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, after which doors open for business at 11 a.m. The event will include special appearances by Tommy Hawk, Benny The Bull, Southpaw from Chicago White Sox, and the Luv-A-Bulls. Entertainment will be provided by Alizma.