Rosemont gets $2.8 million (not $45 million) to settle dispute over failed Emerald Casino

  • By 2008, the unfinished foundation of the failed Emerald Casino in Rosemont was set for demolition. But it paved the way for development of the 200,000-square-foot entertainment district that opened four years later.

    By 2008, the unfinished foundation of the failed Emerald Casino in Rosemont was set for demolition. But it paved the way for development of the 200,000-square-foot entertainment district that opened four years later. Daily Herald File Photo, October 2008

 
 
Updated 12/3/2020 4:49 PM

Rosemont will get $2.8 million in a settlement resolving a long-running dispute over the failed Emerald Casino bid.

The payout represents a fraction of what the village sought -- at least $45 million -- from six former Emerald officers as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.

 

The town spent another $10 million in legal fees over the last two decades, as its attorneys sought to recoup construction costs mostly related to the village's building of a 7-level, 8,500-space parking garage for a casino that never materialized.

That Williams Street garage today serves the 200,000-square-foot Parkway Bank Park village entertainment district, much of it on the site envisioned for the casino. The garage has unused elevator shafts that were intended to transfer casino money to armored vehicles.

"We were in a negative position cash-wise," said Mayor Brad Stephens. "But we have a parking garage as an asset. We were never going to recoup the legal fees, but it's better than getting nothing."

"We were handed lemons and made some pretty tasty lemonade," he said of the entertainment district, which opened in 2012.

The settlement comes from a pool of money secured by a bankruptcy trustee, as ordered by a federal judge in 2014. The judge ruled that six former Emerald officers owed creditors $272 million for losing the company's gambling license, after they failed to comply with Illinois Gaming Board rules and regulations.

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The casino site along the Tri-State Tollway was a flurry of construction activity in 2001 when regulators started investigating allegations of mob ties of potential Emerald investors. The state eventually revoked the corporation's gambling license after determining company officials lied about investors and withheld other key information they were required to disclose.

Meanwhile, the state's 10th gambling license ended up going to the operators of Rivers Casino, across the street from Rosemont in Des Plaines.

Of 100 different creditors, only a few are left, many having been paid by Emerald's bankruptcy trustee through previous settlements.

There are still some unresolved claims in the lawsuit originally filed in June 2002 by the village and contractors. That includes a claim from the general contractor, which was a partnership between Degen & Rosato Construction Co. and Power Construction.

Stephens said the village could have gone to trial on its claims related to the parking garage, but there was a risk of not getting any money, so officials agreed to settle.

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