Mayor Lori Lightfoot to announce winning bid for Chicago’s first casino license – NBC Chicago


According to a press release from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office, Chicago has selected its bid for the city’s first casino license.

The winning bid is Bally’s Corporation, at the Tribune Publishing Center site in River West.

Two other deals in the running were a Hard Rock Casino near West Soldier Field and a Rivers Casino in the South Loop.

The city estimates a casino will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue – money for police and fire department pensions, officials say – but the proposed developments have drawn strong opposition from some residents and elected officials throughout the process.

Here’s a breakdown of what each offering looks like, where it would be located, and what the neighborhood groups are saying.

What we know about the winning bid: Bally’s Corporation Casino in River West

Bally’s $1.74 billion casino and hotel project will be located on part of the Tribune publishing plant site in the River West neighborhood.

The proposal includes a 3,000-seat theater, a sports museum, an extension of the Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian bridge, a 500-room hotel, a concert hall and outdoor park, and six different restaurants.

The proposal would provide space for around 3,400 slot machines and over 150 gaming tables.

A temporary casino would open in 2023, with the permanent location expected to open in early 2026.

Bally’s is reportedly close to a labor agreement with the Chicago Federation of Labor that would require the entire resort to use unionized workers.

What some in the neighborhood are saying

Several officials, including Ald. Brian Hopkins, say the Bally project has always been the frontrunner, and they express concerns about the process that led to the decision.

“[Mayor Lori Lightfoot] said she hadn’t made a decision, (but) she’s going to come out tomorrow and not explain the rationale,” Hopkins told NBC 5. “I’m screaming foul about this right now.

The Hopkins neighborhood is located just north of the site, which is located along the Chicago River on land once used as a publishing plant for the Chicago Tribune.

Area residents have expressed skepticism about the viability of the site, and homeowner associations have pushed back against the project.

“I think it’s a bit of an odd location, because there’s not much public transport here,” said one resident.

The neighboring River North Residents Association overwhelmingly opposes a deal with a casino. According to a poll, more than 85% of locals said they would rather not have a casino.

“I think Chicago is one of the great American cities, and I think we can do better than that,” said Brian Israel, who represents the association.

Which other casinos have submitted offers?

Hard Rock (a central site), west of Soldier Field – Hard Rock has proposed a $1.74 billion casino just north of McCormick Place on Chicago’s lakefront. The proposal would include a 3,500-seat concert hall, a 500-room hotel tower, restaurants and six different bars and lounges.

According to officials, more than 3,000 slot machines and 166 gaming tables would be included in the plans.

Hard Rock officials said they will open a temporary casino in mid-2023 and a permanent casino by the end of 2025.

Rivers (78), South Loop, including Chinatown and Pilsen – Rivers 78 includes a $1.62 billion casino project on the site known as “The 78”, a large development on Chicago’s South Side. The proposal would include a waterfront area, an observation tower, a waterfront venue for performances, a 300-room hotel tower and eight different restaurants.

The site would include room for over 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games.

A temporary casino could open at the site in early 2024, while the permanent location would open in late 2025, officials say.


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