Bally’s Chosen as the Winning Bidder for the First Chicago Casino License

  • The Chicago City Council and Illinois Gaming Board also have to approve the license decision
  • Lawmakers hope that the casino project will generate $200m in tax revenue each year
  • A temporary casino would open in 2023 and the permanent casino is expected to open in 2026
  • The casino project will create 3,000 construction jobs and then 3,000 casino jobs
Chicago bean
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced that Bally’s Corporation is the preferred bidder for Chicago’s first casino. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

The successful candidate

Bally’s Corporation is the successful candidate for the first-ever Chicago casino license. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the selection on Thursday after rumors had made the rounds for a number of days that Bally’s was her preferred option over two competing bids.

The Chicago City Council still needs to give its seal of approval to Bally’s. If all is good on the council level, the Illinois Gaming Board will then have the final decision on the matter.

will generate annual tax revenue of about $200m

The casino is set to be built on the site of the Tribune Publishing Center in River West. The unsuccessful bids were a Hard Rock casino close to Soldier Field and a Rivers casino in South Loop. The city is hoping that the new casino will generate annual tax revenue of about $200m. The bulk of these funds will go to fire and police pensions.

A major project

Bally’s successful $1.74bn proposal includes a 500-room hotel, a theatre, six restaurants, and an outdoor music venue. The casino floor is set to have enough room to hold about 3,400 slot machines and over 150 table games. The plan is to open a temporary casino open next year, with the permanent casino expected to be ready to open in the early months of 2026.

Rhode Island-based Bally’s Corporation is the owner and operator of 14 casinos across ten states. The Chicago casino will be its flagship property.

There has been some opposition by local residents to the Bally’s proposal. Some residents believe that it is an odd location for a casino as it is not close to much public transportation and there would also be significant traffic disruption.

Getting it over the line

Other mayors had attempted to bring a casino to Chicago, but were unsuccessful. Mayor Lightfoot is taking the successful push for a casino in the city as a major win before she seeks re-election. She believes that the casino will put an end to people in Chicago and the surrounding areas going across the border to Indiana to gamble, which will help to keep money in the state.

Speaking about the decision to go with the Bally’s proposal, Mayor Lightfoot said: “We are confident that Bally’s Tribune Publishing Center development will shore up the City’s pension funds, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and lead to a bright financial future for our city.”

There will be about 3,000 construction jobs created through the project, as well as 3,000 permanent jobs when the casino opens.

Bally’s proposal was successful in part because the company does not have a competing casino nearby and the company has already entered a labor peace agreement with the Chicago Federation of Labor.

Bally’s Corporation chairman Soo Kim welcomed the news of the successful bid, saying: “We understand all of the promises that this casino allows the city of Chicago to keep and the state of Illinois, and we accept and bear those responsibilities.”