Bally’s Claims Ignorance Over Federal, Local Probes into Chicago Casino License Award

  • Sources allege both federal and Inspector General’s probes started “months ago”
  • Both Bally’s and ex-Mayor Lightfoot’s office claim ignorance of either investigation
  • Some Aldermen have long voiced concerns over a lack of transparency in the casino bid
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Both Bally’s and ex-Mayor Lightfoot’s office claim they have no knowledge of any federal or local probe into the Chicago casino license process. [Image:]

Bally’s in the dark

A Bally’s Corporation spokesperson has said the firm is ignorant of reports that both federal and local departments are investigating how its Chicago casino license was secured.

Alderman Brian Hopkins confirmed the existence of the federal probe

According to Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago, however, Alderman Brian Hopkins confirmed the existence of the federal probe. Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg is also said to be heading up a parallel probe into the Bally’s casino license process.

Crain’s attributes sources stating both investigations into controversial financial deals, bidding fee charges, and conflicts of interest regarding the Bally’s license award “started months ago.”

Lightfoot in the crosshairs

Lori Lightfoot was the mayor of Chicago and the prime driver behind pushing through the city’s first-ever casino license in May 2022, and was rumored to be pro-Bally’s over the other bidders.

No surprise then, that the ex-mayor’s office has also been roped into the two freshly reported probes.

According to Crain’s, both Lightfoot’s spokeswoman Joanna Klonsky and ex-Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar, who was heading up the casino bidding process, claimed no knowledge of any probe. Klonsky and Mayekar are said to have attributed reports of any inquiries, to “disgruntled losing bidders spreading false rumors”

Despite Alderman Hopkins’ confirmation of the federal inquiry, the US Attorney’s office did not respond to Crain’s requests for comment.

Ditto for the Chicago Inspector General’s office, which declined comment in line with office policy. Additionally, Chicago’s Law Department was cited as stating: “neither they nor the mayor’s office have been subpoenaed or requested to provide information.”

Where there’s smoke

Despite both Bally’s and Lightfoot’s allies claiming ignorance of the investigations, they will surely fill them with some dread.

Some Aldermen like Hopkins have long shone the spotlight on the process behind the license award for a casino anticipated to cost Bally’s $1.7bn.

The Aldermen have in the past alleged a lack of transparency, while also voicing doubts that Bally’s lacked the chops to make the project a success.

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