Bally’s Scores Victories On Path To Build Chicago Casino

Written By J.R. Duren on December 19, 2022
New Bally's Chicago casino zoning approved

Christmas came early for Bally’s. In the span of a week, the Chicago Department of Planning and the City Council Zoning Committee approved zoning for Bally’s plans to build a $1.7 billion Illinois casino in Chicago’s River West neighborhood.

The approvals are crucial steps in the company’s push to start construction on what would be the first casino in Chicago since the state legalized casino gambling more than 30 years ago.

In the meantime, Bally’s awaits a license from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). In the meantime, Bally’s plans to open a temporary casino at Medinah Temple.

Construction on the permanent casino is slated to finish in 2026.

City leaders nearly unanimous in their support, but there was opposition

The Bally’s casino proposal caused a bit of controversy, which isn’t out of the ordinary. A casino company bringing a new property to a city inevitably raises concerns from people opposed to gambling.

They want to see the city use the casino property for something else or don’t want the increased traffic that a casino brings.

However, when city council members (“aldermen”) voted on the issue this past week, they were nearly 100% unified in their vote. Bally’s proposal passed by a tally of 39-5.

During the meeting this past Wednesday, multiple aldermen took to the council’s podium to plead for or against the proposal. One alderman argued that the city needs the $200 million that Bally predicts its River West casino will produce.

Another said he doesn’t think the mayor’s office has the right people in place to pull off the project. Yet another alderman argued that nearly 90% of constituents in the 42nd Ward, a downtown community, opposed the casino.

And, according to local media, several aldermen argued that the city rushed the project.

That being said the opposition was limited and more than 85% of the council approved zoning for the new casino. Now, Bally’s has to hope the IGB will approve its zoning plans.

If it does, construction will most likely start in the first few months of 2023.

Illinois casino will replace the Chicago Tribune printing property

Bally plans to redevelop the land on which the Chicago Tribune’s printing plant sits right now. The project will be a massive one.

It will take place in two phases. The first phase of construction will include:

  • A casino
  • A 500-room hotel
  • Multiple restaurants
  • A 3,000-seat theater

The second phase of the project will include:

  • 4,800 apartments and condos
  • 250 additional hotel rooms
  • A new park along the Chicago River

In total, Bally’s predicts the project will create 3,000 short-term construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. Bally’s intends to hire a workforce that’s 65% minority and 45% women.

Bally’s noted on the development’s website:

“In every community in which we operate, we build strong, lasting partnerships with local residents and businesses. Chicago will be no different. With this project, we are committed to ensuring that Bally’s Chicago generates significant economic stimulus and creates a wealth of employment opportunities for the greater Chicago community.”

Chicago’s first casino will generate nearly $1 billion in gross gaming receipts

If Bally’s gets IGB approval for its casino, it stands to make a ton of money. The closest Illinois casino to downtown is the Rivers Des Plaines, which is 45 minutes away.

In documents filed by Bally’s, the company says it sees the casino eventually generating $800 million in gross gaming receipts. Additionally, it believes the casino will bring in at least four million customers a year.

That spells big money for Bally’s and may put a noticeable dent in Rivers Des Plaines’ revenue. Horseshoe Hammond, an Indiana casino about 25 minutes away from downtown Chicago, will likely lose business to Bally’s, too.

Photo by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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