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Illinois Gaming Board Grants Preliminary Suitability To Bally’s For Chicago Casino

Written By Derek Helling on June 15, 2023
The Bally's logo suspended over the Chicago River in downtown Chicago

A preliminary but crucial step toward the eventual opening of a casino in the United States’ third-largest city is now a matter of public record. During a Thursday meeting, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) found Bally’s preliminarily suitable for a casino license pertaining to its planned Chicago facility.

While there are several more regulatory steps that are necessary before Bally’s can open even its temporary casino property to the public, none of those could take place without Wednesday’s award. The IGB had other related matters to attend to during the meeting as well.

IGB votes to find Bally’s preliminarily suitable for Chicago casino license

The IGB’s four members met in Chicago on Thursday morning to consider several matters, among them the status of Bally’s Chicago casino project. To that end, multiple representatives of Bally’s took part in a presentation. Among them was Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim and Bally’s Chicago General Manager Mike Wong.

The presentation included plans to meet legal and regulatory requirements pertaining to the Chicago license. Among them was a plan to offer shares in the casino to local residents and details about its temporary facility, the Medinah Temple.

After some discussion, the IGB voted 4-0 to find Bally’s preliminarily suitable for licensure. As IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter pointed out during the meeting, the word of emphasis in that term is preliminary.

The finding is not a guarantee that the IGB will award Bally’s either a temporary or permanent license to operate a casino in Chicago. That will require a more fulsome inquiry, including testing of gaming operations on-site. That can move forward when the parties are prepared. It could happen in the near future at the Medinah Temple.

Timeline for Medinah Temple opening remains somewhat vague

Although representatives for Bally’s did discuss the Medinah Temple, they did not provide any updates on when Bally’s hopes to open the property to the public. For that reason, a target timeframe remains sometime this summer.

Construction is underway at the property and provided that continues moving along, it’s possible that IGB staff could conduct tests within the next month. Should that prove the case, a late July or early August opening remains probable.

Although it will be just a temporary casino, Wong expressed that the Medinah Temple will offer multiple dining options, more than 50 gaming tables, and 750 slot machines. While the renovations of the site are likely keeping Wong busy, the IGB was similarly busy with other matters pertaining to casinos in the state on Thursday.

IGB holds court on other Illinois casino matters

The Chicago suitability wasn’t the only thing that brought Bally’s staff to Chicago on Thursday. Representatives from Bally’s Quad Cities were also on hand to make a presentation to the IGB regarding the renewal of its license. The board members also unanimously approved that for another four years.

Additionally, the IGB approved a permanent license for Full House Resorts pertaining to its Waukegan casino, American Place. Also related to that license was an extension of a deadline for American Place to transition to its permanent property. The company has been operating The Temporary in Waukegan since February.

Full House now has until Feb. 17, 2026, to open its permanent casino. The IGB granted a similar extension to the Hard Rock in Rockford, permitting that casino to continue to operate in its current temporary facility through Nov. 9, 2024.

Whether Bally’s will eventually ask for a similar extension for its permanent Chicago casino is still a ways down the road. At this time, everything seems to be moving along according to plan thanks to the IGB’s vote on Thursday.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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