Homewood trustees Tuesday signed off on contract extensions for firms assisting the village in acquiring a casino.
With three trustees and Village President Rich Hofeld present, the group voted 4-0 to spend $37,000 in fees to keep two law firms vying for their interests. Barnes and Thornburg LLP will receive $27,000; William F. Mahar Inc. will be paid $10,000. .
Barnes & Thornburg works with Homewood in understanding the process behind opening a legal casino in Illinois. Mahar—a lobbyist and former state senator—represents Homewood’s casino interests at the Statehouse in Springfield.
Mahar served in the General Assembly from 1984 to 2002.
Village President Rich Hofeld described Mahar as the “whip,"—the one trying to influence the Legislature to act on a measure to approve a casino. Barnes & Thornburg, “does all the rest of the things needed to prepare us to have a casino someday, Northwest Indiana Times reported.
Currently, there are 10 casinos licensed by the Illinois Gaming Board. It's possible the board would create five more licenses, one of which would be in Chicago, and another in the south suburbs.
Homewood officials have said they envision 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 have also expressed interest in having a casiono—including Calumet City, Lynwood, Ford Heights and Country Club Hills.