Full House Resorts Battles Legal Hurdles, Eyes Casino Growth

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In a keenly anticipated announcement, Full House Resorts (NASDAQ: FLL), operators of regional casinos, revealed that its financial figures for the fourth quarter had fallen short of expectations. Despite the numbers, they remain optimistic regarding the future, particularly with reference to the much-talked-about American Place casino hotel in Waukegan, Illinois. Their expectations are pegged on a 2027 opening date, contingent on gaining judicious favor in ongoing legal wranglings with a Tribal competitor.

The contentious legal dispute stems from the Wisconsin Potawatomi Band of Indians, who currently manage their own gaming establishment in Milwaukee. They have initiated a lawsuit against the city of Waukegan and the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), alleging underhandedness during the license-awarding bid—a process that favored Full House Resorts. This resurrected lawsuit lingers, yet Illinois’s decision-makers have conferred a permit allowing Full House to keep The Temporary at American Place operative up to 2027. Illinois’s legislature imposes a two-year period on temporary casinos to convert to permanent structures, thus without this legal grace, the American Place casino would have to inaugurate in less than a year.

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“We were chosen for that license following a thorough public process. An independent consultant commissioned by the City of Waukegan appraised the Tribal proposal as less desirable in most aspects compared to the other four bids, including ours,” stated Full House CEO Dan Lee confidently. Lee declared the lawsuit baseless and expressed his belief that the actions of the IGB and Waukegan have prompted an expedited review by the Illinois Supreme Court, with a possible decision as early as next year.

The strategic role of American Place cannot be overstated in Full House’s growth trajectory. This project, along with the Chamonix Casino Hotel in Cripple Creek, Colorado, are pivotal expansions for Las Vegas headquartered Full House, which also runs two Nevada properties, an Indiana venue, Bronco Billy’s in Cripple Creek, and the Silver Slipper in Mississippi. It is anticipated that revenue from the Cripple Creek and Waukegan ventures, once they gain momentum, will eclipse earnings from their other operations. Such are the stakes that Lee envisions a tripling in the size of Full House.

The funding for the final development phase of the permanent American Place casino is forecasted to peak in the latter half of 2026, extending into the succeeding year. Lee remains positive about Full House’s capability to finance a substantial portion through operational cash flow and considers debt issuance to cover any financial shortfall. This optimism is bolstered by a “stable” outlook from Moody’s Investors Service, which maintained Full House at a corporate credit rating of “Caa1”.

Performance indicators for The Temporary have been promising, with significant revenue logged in December, followed by $8.2 million garnered in January and an excess of $9 million in February, indicative of an upward trajectory.

Complementing the buoyant prospects of American Place, Chamonix Casino Hotel, which commenced operations late in December, is set to fortify Full House’s quarterly financials. Boasting premium services and aesthetically pleasant surroundings, comparisons have emerged between Chamonix and illustrious casinos such as Wynn and Bellagio, with echoes of Lee’s earlier career milestones resonating.

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