Chicago Casino Bids Down To Three, Selection Pushed To Summer

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on March 23, 2022
Casino Bids Down To Three But Pushes Deadline To Summer In Chicago

Although there are only three bids in the running for a Chicago casino license, it appears a selection will not be made until early summer

Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously said a selection would come by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Unfortunately, the city will miss that deadline. 

Final three bids in Chicago

Bally’s Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers 78, and Hard Rock One Center are the last standing. The city decided not to move forward with Rivers Chicago McCormick and McCormick Place. 

McCormick Place informed the city it did not want to transform its facilities into a casino.

Scott Goodman, the face of the Rivers McCormick bid, said:

“We were proud to present a casino proposal that brings the most value to taxpayers – more than $1.5 billion taxpayer benefit over all other bids – by investing in a publicly-owned space. While we are disappointed this proposal was not selected to move forward, we want to thank the City of Chicago and MPEA for their consideration. We wish the eventual winner and the city at large great success, as Chicago’s first casino will be a destination for all to enjoy and a revenue generator for local governments.”

Chicago casino action timetable

The city plans to hold “community engagement meetings” to discuss the remaining proposals in early April. 

  • Hard Rock: April 5 at Harold Washington Library
  • Bally’s: April 6 at the Tribune Publishing Plant
  • Rivers: April 7 at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum

Speaking on the remaining bids, Lightfoot had this to say:

“Each proposal offers economic, employment, and equity-focused opportunities for Chicago, while simultaneously enhancing the City’s cultural, entertainment and architectural scenes with world-class amenities and design.”

Brief look at each remaining casino bid in Chicago

Rivers 78 will be located along the Chicago River between South Loop and Chinatown.

  • $1.6 billion price tag
  • A temporary casino in the form of a riverboat docked at the 78 development site
  • 300-room hotel, bars, restaurants, and food hall
  • Observation tower and riverfront plaza

Bally’s Tribune Publishing Center will be located on Halsted and Chicago Avenue. 

  • $1.7 billion price tag
  • A temporary casino at the development site
  • Bally’s sports bar and Chicago sports museum
  • A rooftop space with bars, lounges, and pools
  • 500-room hotel

Hard Rock will be located at the new One Central development west of Soldier Field. 

  • $6.5 billion
  • A temporary casino — location TBD

For now, there are few details on the Hard Rock Casino. However, according to Jennie Bennett, Chicago’s chief financial officer, the casino can proceed before anything is finalized with One Central.

“The Hard Rock proposal proposes a phase one where the remainder of One Central does not need to move forward. It’s not contingent on state funding,” said Bennett. 

Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski / Associated Press
Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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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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