Chicago city is holding a special meeting Monday to discuss the three finalist proposals to build its first casino.
The three neighborhoods in consideration include the South Loop —which includes Chinatown and Pilsen—, the area just west of Soldier Field, and River North. Each of those locations is considering bids from three different casinos: Bally’s Corporation, Hard Rock and Rush Street Gaming’s Rivers 78. Each of them held public hearings earlier this month, where they met opposition from local residents.
On Sunday, protestors spoke out against the proposed Rivers 78 casino in the South Loop, arguing it would lead to more traffic and more gambling addition, NBC Chicago reports. They also cited an assessment they say shows the majority of residents do not support a casino. The head of a Chinatown health organization says polling shows most residents don’t want a huge casino near their neighborhood.
“Most of the people, they feel concerned,” said Dr. Hong Liu of the Midwest Asian Health Association. “They don’t feel comfortable to have a casino near Chinatown which may damage the community’s safety and increase the addiction problem.”
Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez, whose 25th Ward includes Chinatown and the West Loop, is also against the casino’s development. “We understand that there’s a casino that was approved by the state, approved by the city, but where this happens needs to always be in consultation with the residents,” he said.
State Rep. Theresa Mah, D-Chicago, is opposed to a casino near Chinatown. “They provide food and drink and all kinds of amenities so that they don’t leave,” she said. “Normally those tourists would be having lunch and dinner in Chinatown.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Last week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot defended the project and said she won’t let that local opposition stand in the way of a Chicago casino needed to pay police and fire pension debt to prevent a major property tax hike. She says the projected tax revenue is between $175-195 million depending on the location. Lightfoot is pushing for a final decision in May or June.
A virtual meeting will take place at 1 p.m. on the Chicago City Clerk’s website. Written public comment can be emailed to [email protected] and at [email protected] and will be accepted up until 10:00 a.m. Monday.