Bally’s Corporation Wins Chicago Casino License, Beats Out Hard Rock & Rush Street

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on May 5, 2022
Casino License Given To Ballys Corporation As Winner In Chicago

After a lengthy and somewhat tenuous process, Chicago selects Bally’s Corporation ($BALY) as the winner of its coveted casino license. 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Bally’s as the winner beating out Hard Rock and local operator Rush Street Gaming

Ahead of Thursday’s announcement, $BALY opened at $30.65 per share. As of writing, the stock was trading at $29.74.

Of the three finalists, Bally’s was the only one to offer an upfront payment of $25 million

What a Bally’s Casino will bring to Chicago

The Rhode Island-based casino and online gambling company will redevelop the 30-acre Tribune Printing plant at 777 W. Chicago Ave. 

Amenities include:

  • 500-room hotel
  • 6 restaurants and cafes
  • 3 bars and lounges
  • 3,000-seat riverwalk entertainment venue
  • 20,000 square feet of exhibition space
  • A sports museum
  • Outdoor/rooftop area with bars, lounges, and pools

The casino would include 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games. The project is expected to cost roughly $2 billion.

City analysts estimate the casino could generate upwards of $191.7 million in revenue six years after opening. Out of the three finalists, Bally’s revenue projections were the highest estimated total for Chicago.

Not all said and done in Chicago

It’s no secret that Bally’s selection comes with a wealth of opposition. 

On Tuesday, 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins told local ABC-7:

“If it ends up being Bally’s, and it ends up as the result of a corrupt, secretive process, I think it’s fair to say the residents of the north side will feel betrayed by this mayor.”

Both Alderman Hopkins and Ald. Brendan Reily (42nd), whose wards are adjacent to the development site — opposes the casino. 

Speaking with the Chicago Sun-Times, Hopkins cited Bally’s lack of experience in building a casino from the ground up.  

“To pick a team with no experience constructing large, multi-use projects is folly. This is not a project for beginners.”

Hopkins continued:

“They’re going to make mistakes. They’re going to do things that a more experienced team wouldn’t do. It’s going to delay the project. It’s going to cause all sorts of inconvenience to the neighborhood. We will probably wind up with something that is defective in some ways. … Quickest to market is a promise that is unlikely to be kept by this inexperienced team that don’t seem to know what they’re doing.”

What are the next steps in Chicago for Bally’s

The mayor’s selection is but one component of the process. Bally’s Corp. still needs support from the full City Council and approval from the Illinois Gaming Board.

There is no timeline for when the City Council plans to review Lightfoot’s selection. 

As with the other proposals, there is no mention of Illinois online casino gaming.

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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick has had stints in Chicago and Washington, D.C., writing about politics, financial markets, and sports betting. He graduated from Texas Tech University and completed his master's degree in journalism at Columbia College Chicago.

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