Chicago City Council Approves Bally’s $1.7bn Casino Plan

Chicago Theatre

The Chicago City Council has voted 41-7 in favor of the Bally’s casino project. [Image:]

Getting over the line

It appears that Chicago will soon have its first-ever casino after the City Council gave the Bally’s project its support. Following a 41-7 council vote on Wednesday in favor of the casino project proceeding, the final step is for the Illinois Gaming Board to approve the casino.

despite some older people and local residents airing their concerns

The City Council ultimately voted in favor of the casino proposal despite some alderpeople and local residents airing their concerns. There was plenty of impassioned debate at the council meeting before the vote took place. Alderman Brendan Reilly questioned the revenue projections of the casino.

Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez had a heated altercation with Mayor Lori Lightfoot, calling the casino selection process a “sham.” He claimed that the administration was more concerned about campaign contributions than doing what is right for the city. Lightfoot responded vehemently, banging her gavel and shouting “You are a liar! You are a liar, sir, and you are out of order!”

Timeline for opening the casino

Speaking after the successful council vote, Mayor Lightfoot said: “It goes without saying that this is a major, major milestone in our city.” She spoke about how attempts over the past three decades to introduce a casino to the city have been unsuccessful, but that now the “long-sought dream” is a reality.

Bally’s Corporation chairman Soo Kim also welcomed the news of the council vote, saying “We understand what a responsibility it really is and how many promises it allows the city of Chicago to keep to its police and firemen, to the hard hit workers in the in the trades.”

aims to have a temporary casino up and running in summer 2023

Bally’s, chosen by Mayor Lori Lightfoot as the successful applicant to develop the city’s first casino, plans to build the $1.7bn riverfront casino and resort in River West at the Chicago Tribune Publishing site. Bally’s aims to have a temporary casino up and running in next summer and estimated that the permanent casino will be completed in late 2025 or early 2026.

A long time coming

A Chicago casino has been a long time coming; many previous mayors pushed to get a casino in the city, but to no avail. It was in the summer of 2019 that the process for the current casino project push began. Many more prominent casino companies decided to stay away for multiple reasons, including high tax rates.

The permanent Bally’s casino is expected to have 3,400 slot machines, 500 hotel rooms, 173 table games, and many dining and recreational options.

In addition to Bally’s, Hard Rock and Rivers were also finalists for the project. Bally’s was ultimately successful for a number of reasons, among which were a deal it already had with labor unions, it had no nearby casinos, and it promised to provide a $40m upfront payment to the city.

The expectation is that the Bally’s permanent casino will generate tax revenue of about $200m per year once it has been open for a year or two. The temporary casino will generate an estimated $55m annually. Once open, the casino is expected to create about 3,000 permanent jobs.


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