Expert Thinks Bally’s Won’t Meet Deadline for Chicago Casino

  • Alan Woinski is certain “we’re not going to have that full project by the end of 2026”
  • Bally’s exec Mark Wong stated Bally’s is “on track for a September 2026 opening”
  • Woinski questioned the point of a Chicago casino given retail “has been kind of in a death spiral”
Chicago flag with city skyline
Alan Woinski has questioned Bally’s financial fitness to hit its September 2026 deadline for the $1.7m Chicago casino. [Image:]

Expert raises alarm

A respected US gaming industry expert has raised alarm bells over Bally’s Corp’s financial fitness to not only be able to hit its September 2026 deadline for delivering Chicago’s $1.7bn casino, but to even complete it at all.

reaction to doubts expressed over the casino project by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson

The Chicago Sun Times on Thursday cited CEO of Gaming USA Corp Alan Woinski’s reaction to doubts expressed over the casino project by Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson.

The bottom line, according to Woinski, who is also editor of the Gaming Industry Daily Report, is that Bally’s won’t hit its Chicago deadline. He stated: “The one thing I’m certain of is we’re not going to have that full project by the end of 2026.”

Media reports cite Woinski comparing the major issues facing casino projects in Detroit and New Orleans with the financial mountain Bally’s has to climb in Chicago. Woinski, ultimately, believes the Providence, Rhode-island headquartered casino giant may be in the most trouble.

Cash-flow issues

The financial issues Woinski points out include an $800m construction funding gap for the Chicago casino in River West and a buyout offer from its largest shareholder Standard General that another Bally’s stakeholder said in April “woefully” underprices the casino giant.

Bally’s is contractually obligated to spend at least $1.34bn on the $1.7bn Chicago casino. Given the firm’s financial headaches, Woinski believes the best option would be to build a better temporary casino than the one at Medinah Temple, which incidentally broke records for admissions and gross receipts.

Above all, the gaming expert warns, he hopes Bally’s doesn’t go beyond the demolition stage of the Chicago casino project in River West. Woinski spoke of 30 years’ experience of seeing firms start construction without having the finances in place.

I’ve seen … things start and then stop.”

“That’s the worst thing for everyone. … I’ve seen it in Las Vegas, right on the Strip. I’ve seen … things start and then stop,” said Woinski.

According to the Sun Times, Bally’s Chicago General Manager Mark Wong issued a statement Thursday saying his firm’s commitment to the project was unwavering and that Bally’s was “on track for a September 2026 opening.”

“Work to prepare the site for demolition will begin immediately,” he added. “Details about the demolition timeline and financing are forthcoming.”

No silver lining in sight

Another major problem facing a Bally’s casino in Chicago is the impact of sports betting, plus video gaming terminals in bars and restaurants. So much so that Woinski is puzzled why casino licenses were handed out in Illinois to start with, given the US brick-and-mortar casino market “has been kind of in a death spiral” thanks to VGTs.

“Why grant licenses to begin with anywhere in the state when you have a mature casino industry that is in decline? … We’ve reached the saturation point.”

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