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Chicago Casino Update: Votes Coming Soon on Bally’s $1.7 Billion Project

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Posted on: May 19, 2022, 10:08h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2022, 10:45h.

A vote could take place as early as Friday on Bally’s Corp.’s $1.7 billion casino proposal for Chicago.

Bally's Chicago
A rendering of Bally’s proposed $1.7 billion casino in Chicago. A special committee of the city council is scheduled to discuss the project and an agreement between the city and company on Friday. (Image: Bally’s Corp.)

The Chicago City Council’s special committee on the project will hold a 10 am CT meeting. The agenda includes consideration of an ordinance amending parts of the city’s law regarding casino gaming. It also has a resolution pertaining to the project slated for the Chicago Tribune’s printing plant, located along the Chicago River and northwest of the city’s Loop District.

Should the committee pass both the ordinance and resolution, it’s possible the full council could act on them as soon as next week. The city council’s web site shows meetings scheduled on Monday and Wednesday of next week, and the casino ordinance is listed on the agenda for Monday’s meeting.

While the agenda for Friday’s meeting says the special committee will “consider and vote” on the issues, the Chicago Sun-Times reported late Thursday evening the committee would only discuss the project on Friday. The paper cited a source who claims the committee will vote on Tuesday, with a full Council vote happening that day or next Thursday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has enough council support to sign off on the Bally’s project, the Sun-Times reported. But the extra time will ensure the aldermembers get their questions answered.

Alderman Raises Concerns About Casino Deal

Approval of the agreement between Lightfoot’s administration and Bally’s is necessary in order for the project to move forward. Once the pact is signed, Bally’s will give the city a one-time $40 million payment, and the license application will go before the Illinois Gaming Board for its review. The city’s Plan Commission must also approve the zoning changes needed for the casino.

Bally’s officials will open a temporary casino in the city while the permanent venue is built. A temporary casino could open as early as next year, and according to the agreement reached between the parties, Bally’s has agreed to pay the city $4 million annually once that happens. The Bally’s money to the city will be split between “budgetary relief” and “community benefits,” according to a recommendation report the city released earlier this month.

However, Alderman Brendan Reilly told the Sun-Times he has serious concerns about the agreement between the city and Bally’s. Specifically, the alderman said the deal gives the mayor’s office power to make changes to the agreement without involving the council.

This transfers an incredible amount of authority away from the city council to the executive branch,” the alderman told the Sun-Times.

Reilly, whose ward includes a neighborhood adjacent to the permanent project, has said he does not oppose the city getting a casino. However, he objects to the Tribune site for the $1.7 billion project, as well as the Medinah Temple, where the temporary casino would be housed.

Bally’s Chicago Casino Details

According to Bally’s, the company’s permanent casino would house 3,400 slot machines and 170 table games, making it the largest casino in Illinois. The project also includes a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, and six dining options.

The permanent casino, slated to open in 2026, would create 3,000 construction jobs and another 3,000 jobs at the casino.

Bally’s would also invest $70 million to renovate the Medinah Temple, a city landmark that started as a Shriners auditorium more than a century ago and was most recently used as retail space. That venue would house 800 gaming seats and up to three dining establishments.

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