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Chicago Casino Still Has Long Road Ahead Before Opening

Illinois gaming regulators approved the initial steps necessary for Bally’s to move forward with building plans for Chicago’s first casino.

Bally's temporary casino location approved in Chicago
Photo by PlayUSA
Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
2 mins read

Illinois regulators approved a license for the Medinah Temple in downtown Chicago to serve as a temporary Illinois casinoLast week, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) voted 3-0 to approve supplier licenses for two corporate entities owned by real estate developer Albert Friedman.

The Medinah Temple, a former Bloomingdale’s, will serve as a temporary casino location that developer Bally’s Corp. hopes to open by June. Whether the company’s timeline can be met remains to be determined.

Gaming regulators still need to investigate and approve everyone involved with the project, from top investors down to subcontractors. 

Illinois casino still has a long road ahead

During an IGB meeting, Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter said the investigation process was underway. However, Fruchter declined to say when a hearing would be held on Bally’s “preliminary suitability” for an operating license. 

Bally’s needs an operating license before any casino-related work can begin on either side. Speaking on the lengthy investigation process, Fruchter said:

“[The process] is moving forward and Bally’s is cooperating with IGB staff. We will continue to adhere to the established process and follow the facts and the law wherever they lead us.”

In December, the city approved zoning changes needed to accommodate what will be the state’s largest casino. Once complete, Bally’s Chicago casino will have the following:

  • An exhibition hall
  • 500-room hotel
  • 3,000-seat theater
  • 11 restaurants
  • 4,000 gaming positions

Some oppose the Illinois casino plan, like Ald. Brendan Reilly. Reilly and a handful of other council members criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot for rushing the approval process. The group also raised concerns about traffic, safety and Bally’s financing for the casino project.

Expansion of gambling in Illinois

In 2019, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a measure into law vastly expanding gambling in Illinois. Among other things, the law included six new casinos, only one of which has begun operations. 

Hard Rock Casino Rockford opened at a temporary site in November 2021. That opening was almost two years after submitting its application to gambling regulators.

Bally’s filed its application with the state regulators in August. 

Nicholaus Garcia Avatar
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Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

View all posts by Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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