Miguel Pascual and Aleksandra Micevic of Hard Rock Casino Rockford present a $2,000 check to Karen Waller and Geneva Anderson of the African-American Resource Center at Booker on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Hard Rock Casino Rockford announced on Monday that it donated more than $1 million to 96 organizations and community events in the region in 2023.

Contributions went to organizations such as the International Women’s Baseball Center, GiGi’s Playhouse Rockford, American Cancer Society, Alignment Rockford and a concert venue for Live at Levings in southwest Rockford.

“When Hard Rock first arrived in Rockford, we made a commitment to be a partner that continued to elevate and support Rockford,” Geno Iafrate, president of Hard Rock Casino Rockford, said in a news release. “As we look forward to the grand opening of our permanent location later this year, we take pride in supporting the organizations and events that give back to this wonderful community.

“There are some truly incredible efforts being done to benefit so many different causes, and we want to ensure we are able to continue to give back and support their missions in the same way the community supports us.”

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Hard Rock took in more than $69 million in revenue from gambling at its Rockford casino in 2023, according to data from the Illinois Gaming Board. It was a 26% increase from 2022. That revenue generated more than $4 million in local taxes.

Hard Rock said it plans to continue donations in 2024, including a contribution for Black History Month to the YMCA of Rock River Valley’s Black Achievers initiative.

“We’re grateful to Hard Rock and their commitment to enhancing opportunities and programs for local Black youth,” Kamrin Muhammad, executive director of College and Career Readiness for YMCA of Rock River Valley, said in a news release. “This type of generosity helps pave the way toward empowering Rockford’s youth and ensuring their journey to success is impactful.”

Hard Rock Casino Rockford is slated to open its 180,000-square-foot casino in summer with a grand opening around Labor Day. It will have 65,000 square feet of casino space covered with 1,300 slot machines, 44 live table games including six poker tables and a sports book. There will also be a separate 1,600-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue that doubles as a banquet and event space.

There will also be multiple dining options including a signature Hard Rock Cafe and fine dining restaurant Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, and a Rock Shop with authentic music memorabilia.

The project created approximately 1,200 construction jobs, and Hard Rock is now working to hire 400 full and part-time positions for the permanent casino.

“When Hard Rock first entered the Rockford community, we knew how valuable this partnership would be for the city,” Mayor Tom McNamara said in a news release. “Hard Rock has stayed true to its commitment to become an active member of our community, contributing to Rockford-based events, organizations, infrastructure, and education. We are thrilled to have Hard Rock as a staple in our community and are excited to see how our partnership continues to grow.

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