Casino Queen

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Casino Queen
Location East St. Louis, Illinois
Address 2000 S Front St
Opening dateJune 23, 1993 (1993-06-23)
Total gaming space38,000 sq ft (3,500 m2)
Casino typeRiverboat
OwnerGaming and Leisure Properties
Operating license holderEmployee-owned management company
Coordinates38°37′33″N 90°10′34″W / 38.62583°N 90.17611°W / 38.62583; -90.17611

The Casino Queen is a riverboat casino located near the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois, just across the river from downtown St. Louis. It is owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties and operated by an employee-owned management company.


The Casino Queen in 2006

Illinois enacted a riverboat casino law in 1990 authorizing licenses for ten casinos to open around the state.[1] One of the licenses was guaranteed to East St. Louis, in an effort to help the financially troubled city.[2][3] The group that would ultimately open the Casino Queen, led by real estate developer Bill Koman, submitted its proposal to the Illinois Gaming Board in January 1992.[4] With no other proposals before the board, Koman's group was awarded the license in May 1992.[5]

The Casino Queen opened on June 23, 1993.[6] It was viewed positively by most city officials and residents, as the struggling city desperately needed both a revenue source and employment opportunities for its residents.[7] Casino Queen originally operated on a boat called the White Star One.

Construction of a hotel began in 1998.[8] The 157-room hotel, built at a cost of $15 million, opened in January 2000.[9]

Changed regulations led to the casino to be moved inland, but still built above a shallow pit of water, in 2007. The move also allowed the casino to add 10,000 additional square feet of gaming space. In 2014, the White Star One was auctioned off and sold for $600,000.[10] Casino Queen has generated over $160 million for the city of East St. Louis between 1993 and 2009.[11]

In 2012, Koman and his partners sold the Casino Queen for $170 million to a newly formed Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which would steer the casino's profits into the retirement accounts of participating employees.[12] In 2014, to pay down debt taken on to finance the purchase, the ESOP sold the real estate of the Casino Queen to Gaming and Leisure Properties for $140 million, leasing it back for $14 million per year.[13][14]

In 2020, the casino struck a deal with sports betting provider DraftKings to rebrand the property as DraftKings at Casino Queen.[15] As part of the rebranding, the property will undergo a $10 million renovation that will replace the property's current restaurants and buffet with a full sportsbook, a new all-day restaurant, and a food court with three new quick-service options. The casino will also be integrated into DraftKings' mobile betting app, and also reached an agreement with Fairmount Park Racetrack in nearby Collinsville to operate slots and table games on their property, although sports betting competitor FanDuel has the track's sports-betting license.[16][17][15]

Property information[edit]

The casino includes both 1,100 slots and 34 table games in its 38,000 square feet of gaming space.[18] Per Illinois law and unlike neighboring Missouri casinos, it is not open 24 hours a day.[19]

Dining options include: the Market Street Buffet, Prime Steakhouse, Sevens, and Deli & Chips.

Both a hotel and an RV Park are located on the Casino Queen property.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robert Kelly (February 8, 1990). "Dice to be rollin' on the river". St. Louis Post-Dispatch – via NewsBank.
  2. ^ Kathleen Best (September 11, 1990). "East side casino assured: E. St. Louis wins right to riverboat". St. Louis Post-Dispatch – via NewsBank.
  3. ^ Lynn Sweet (July 3, 1990). "10 vie for 5 riverboat gambling licenses". Chicago Sun-Times – via NewsBank.
  4. ^ "William Koman seeks license for casino boat in E. St. Louis". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 3, 1992 – via NewsBank.
  5. ^ Patrick E. Gauen (May 15, 1992). "Illinois backs casino at E. St. Louis site". St. Louis Post-Dispatch – via NewsBank.
  6. ^ Margaret Gillerman (June 24, 1993). "Casino Queen, a city's dreamboat, sails at last". St. Louis Post-Dispatch – via NewsBank.
  7. ^ Brett Pulley (21 July 1998). "Casino Changes the Fortune Of a Hard-Luck Illinois City". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Mayor says hotel signals renewal of East St. Louis". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 18, 1998 – via NewsBank.
  9. ^ Denise Hollinshed (January 4, 2000). "New hotel at Casino Queen opens for business with views of St. Louis skyline". St. Louis Post-Dispatch – via NewsBank.
  10. ^ Robert Patrick (4 April 2014). "Old Casino Queen yields $600,000 at auction". St Louis Post Dispatch. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  11. ^ "Gambling on the future of East St Louis". Lindenwood University. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  12. ^ Tim Logan (December 28, 2012). "Employee-owners hope to reverse Casino Queen's fortunes". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  13. ^ Lisa Brown (December 10, 2013). "REIT buying Casino Queen real estate for $140 million". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2020-07-26.
  14. ^ "Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. closes acquisition of the real estate assets related to the Casino Queen in East St. Louis for $140 million" (Press release). Gaming and Leisure Properties. January 23, 2014. Retrieved 2020-07-26 – via GlobeNewswire.
  15. ^ a b "In deal with sports wagering firm, Casino Queen rebrands as DraftKings at Casino Queen". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 24, 2020. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
  16. ^[bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ "DraftKings at Casino Queen starts $10M expansion".
  18. ^ "Casino Queen". Clayco. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  19. ^ "IL Says Casino Queen Can't Stay Open 24 Hours". St Louis Public Radio. 23 October 2003. Retrieved 17 November 2019.

External links[edit]