New Casino Harmful To Our Student Workers

Desiree Barnett, Editor-in-Chief

In competition with several others, in Dec. 2021 the villages of Homewood and East Hazel Crest won the bid for the Wind Creek Casino. This plan has been circulating for more than five years and is finally set to be done in 2023, it’s expected to cost 440 million dollars. Wind Creek Casino is going to be on Halsted, right off of Interstate 80, and broke ground May 22. In its current condition, Halsted is already the busiest street in Homewood, with a variety of restaurants and shopping plazas. With this new casino it is projected to create 800 more jobs, which equates to even more traffic on Halstead.

These two villages see the casino as helping financially, but I think they forgot to look at the harm it can cause. The profit from the casino will go into a southland public benefit fund. It will distribute 150,000 each year for the first five years. 

 Being that a lot of H-F students are eligible to work, they work on or near Halsted. Chick-Fil-A, Panera Bread and Portillos are some of the most popular restaurants students are employed by, and they’re the ones closest to the casino. Most of these restaurants don’t close until 10pm-12am. By the time the restaurants are closed and cleaned up the casino will be in full operation. Being out late at night is dangerous, but it’s especially dangerous for young ladies. Even when I leave for work I’m constantly checking my surroundings because the type of world we live in today is scary. 

The main factor that Homewood and East Hazel Crest forgot to factor in is how will the safety of workers from surrounding stores be affected. Halsted always has a steady flow of traffic, so just imagine a 16-17 year old young adult leaving work around 11 and they have to deal with drunk and belligerent people. Who’s to say that these casino goers won’t go to these restaurants while they’re open and start chaos then. On top of that the casino is right of I-80 which runs east and west, so residents in Indiana can easily cross the border to come to the casino.

 Not only do you have to worry about the dangers of those in bordering towns, but student workers also have to worry about residents from other states. Some dangers include kid napping and sex trafficking. Being around a casino is a key spot where those can hang around and lurk in the shadows without being questioned. During the pandemic people started selling more self defense key-chains, but what can an alarm do against drunk and belligerent people. There are new docu-series constantly being released, these same series could be giving visitors from out of town ideas. So now that we see the problem, what are we going to do about it? 

There’s no way these two towns will consider not placing the casino on Halsted. To combat the dangers of predators around the casino and restaurants there needs to be an increase in police presence. Together the villages of Homewood and East Hazel Crest should assign specific late night shifts to officers to patrol around Halstead.