Chicago Plan Commission Gives Green Light to Bally’s Casino Proposal

  • A late objection by an influential alderperson was not enough to derail the approval
  • The City Council is set to conduct a final review of the plans as early as Wednesday
  • The alderperson who objected wanted to see the workforce development plan
  • Bally’s is waiting on Illinois Gaming Board approval to open a temporary casino in the city
Chicago bean
The Chicago Plan Commission has approved Bally’s casino proposal by a 12-1 vote. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Another step forward

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved Bally’s casino plans, marking the latest step forward for the proposed $1.7bn casino at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street. A late objection on Monday by an alderperson was not enough to derail the approval. The final vote by the panel was 12-1; the City Council will conduct a final review as early as Wednesday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already endorsed Bally’s plans

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already endorsed Bally’s plans to build a casino resort that would contain 500 hotel rooms, a gaming area, and significant convention and theatre space. The role of the Chicago Plan Commission – comprised of alderpeople, department heads, and mayoral appointees – is to advise the City Council on any major developments in the city.

Some concerns over jobs

The alderperson who objected to the plans was Walter Burnett Jr. He had concerns over Bally’s not disclosing the plan it reached with local labor unions for workforce development, worried that there might not be enough jobs created for local black residents. An executive for Bally’s responded by promising to disclose the workforce development plan on Tuesday, the same day on which the City Council Zoning Committee will consider the project’s plans.

I’ll just raise a lot of hell at the zoning meeting”

Burnett will not support any zoning until he sees the workforce plan, though he has previously been in favor of the casino project. Speaking about his unhappiness, Burnett said: “I want to see that by tomorrow, or I’ll just raise a lot of hell at the zoning meeting.”

He referenced past instances in which minority workers were shut out by some trade unions, which is why he wants to see the written commitment.

Bally’s vice president of corporate development Christopher Jewett promised that all pledges relating to minority workers will be met. The plan is that 46% of contracts will go to female-owned or minority-owned firms, with 60% of all hiring being minorities.

Getting closer to a start date

Once Bally’s gets full approval for its plans from the City Council, it will be able to begin construction. It is also waiting to get Illinois Gaming Board approval in order to be able to offer gambling in the city. If it receives the gaming approval, Bally’s intends to open a temporary casino in 2023. Its current plan is to have the permanent casino ready to open in 2026.

Bally’s was chosen as the winning bidder to be Chicago’s first casino operator in May, beating out competition from Hard Rock and Rush Street Gaming.

Due to the casino’s planned location in the city, manydifferent considerations need to be taken into account, including parking, traffic management, and relocation of the Chicago Tribune printing plant.