03102023 Golden Nugget Casino 4.jpg

The interior of the Golden Nugget Casino in the midst of construction, in Danville IL. 3-8-23

DANVILLE — Juris Basens has been part of 20 casino development projects from start to finish, so he knows what it’s like.

The public wants to know when the place is going to open, reporters keep calling and asking “Are we there yet,” workers are in overdrive to get the project finished, and employees are getting nervous, hoping they’re up to snuff when state inspectors show up.

“It’s nerve-racking for the new people,” said Basens, who currently serves as general manager of Golden Nugget Danville. “My job is to keep everyone calm.”

“Not yet” was Basens’ answer to the obligatory monthly question of whether the casino doors are ready to swing open.

“I sound like a politician,” he said with a laugh after answering the latest round of questions. “The status is we continue to work with the (Illinois) Gaming Board and continue to make progress. When we feel good about it, we’ll make a request for a testing date.”

That’s when state officials head to Danville to make sure employees and top officials are on board with proper procedures — not to mention that equipment is operating correctly and the place is sanitary, among a number of other things only a state regulator can fathom.

Basens said he doesn’t know if the inspection will last a day or more.

“We started bringing on employees,” he said. “We go through training on internal controls and rules and regulations of gaming laws and how it’s done in Illinois. When we’re at a comfort level, then we have to request a date from the gaming board.”

Basens said there’s a great deal of documentation, internal controls examined, paperwork generated and equipment certified.

“Games are being put in their final place and cameras in their final place,” he said. “We don’t request our test with the gaming board until we’re confident the day they come and test us, everything is sparkling and clean and the employees are ready.”

The casino has said all along it hopes to open this spring. Some people had hoped it would already be open by now, but any construction project takes time.

“We’re in good shape,” Basens said. “We feel confident with everything. We’ve got a good staff; we have good cooperation with local law enforcement; our permanent occupancy is in place; we’re about done with the board of health. We have our state and local liquor license in place, and operating supplies are being delivered.”

Our County Editor

Dave Hinton is editor of The News-Gazette's Our County section and former editor of the Rantoul Press. He can be reached at dhinton@news-gazette.com.