Illinois Gambling Commission Approves Bally’s Chicago Casino Early

All the bets may start in Chicago by the end of the summer.

State regulators gave critical early approval to Bally’s Chicago casino plans Thursday, opening a temporary gaming venue in River North’s historic Medina Temple within months while the company builds a permanent building on River West. paved the way for it to rise. .

The four-member Illinois Gambling Commission has announced a “preliminary” bid for Rhode Island-based Bally’s, nominated by former mayor Lori Lightfoot to spearhead a casino that generations of mayors have shunned. voted unanimously on the results of the “Aptitude” survey.

Lightfoot pushed Bally’s plans through city council last spring after a disputed operator selection process, and the company applied for state approval last August.

City officials initially aimed to shine a bright light on Bally and begin funneling proceeds into the city’s depleted police and firefighter pension funds, but the Gambling Commission’s decision forced the company to move to Medina. (600) remains on track to reach its goal of inviting gamblers. N. Wabash Avenue, late this summer.

An artist rendering of the upcoming Bally’s Chicago Casino on River West.

The Gambling Commission’s designation of “preliminary suitability” allows Bally’s to operate both the Medina, which will be used for three years, and its envisioned $1.7 billion permanent casino complex on the grounds of the Chicago Tribune printing facility. You can lay the foundation for the operation of Chicago Avenue and Halstead Street. The company plans to open its final location in the second half of 2026.

“We asked the city and community to place bets on Bally’s, and like any good casino, we pay out winning bets,” said Su Kim, chairman of Bally’s. “I have a lot of work ahead of me.”

Kim said the temporary venue layout is “almost complete” and Bally’s aims to open within six to eight weeks, meaning the first cards could be dealt out in late July or early August. said to have sex. A Bally spokesperson later relaxed that deadline, saying only that the company “hopes for the end of the summer as soon as the IGB gaming license is approved.”

The company said it has received more than 11,000 job applications for 700 positions it is looking to fill in Medina.

Barry Chairman Su Kim, May 2022.

Barry Chairman Su Kim, May 2022.

Before the Gambling Commission vote, Illinois Gambling Commission administrator Marcus Fractor called it a “very important and important step” but said it was “not the final act of this opera.” .

The curtain won’t go up until Bally’s clears the final regulatory hurdles for Fractor, including testing slots and table games, and the temporary venue in Medina could open within weeks. Mr Kim said it would depend on whether the Gambling Commission staff “can keep up with us”.

“We want to act as quickly as possible,” he said, adding that the company has all its games “slept in a warehouse” ready to go.

The August opening compared to five other new casinos introduced elsewhere in Illinois since Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law gambling in 2019. It indicates that the time required for the examination by is shortened. Bally’s already owns a casino in Rock Island, Illinois. There are 14 other locations nationwide.

In the gambling meccas of Rockford, Waukegan and Danville, it took more than a year from application to receipt of bets. Another new casino is set to open in downstream Williamson County later this year, followed by another in the southern suburbs bordering Homewood and East Hazel Crest early next year.

Marcus Fruchter, Illinois Gaming Commission Administrator.

Marcus Fruchter, Illinois Gaming Commission Administrator.

Victor Hilitzky/For the Sun-Times

But Chicago’s gigantic casino and its allotted 4,000 gaming positions (twice the size of any other casino in Illinois) have long been anchored as the largest gambling cash cows for the city’s pensions and the state. , the state plans to use new gambling revenues for a $45 billion capital infrastructure plan.

City budget officials expect the casino to eventually pump $200 million a year into the pension fund, which has an estimated $33 billion in outstanding debt.

This casino promises to serve as Lightfoot’s lasting legacy, securing much-needed Springfield backing to adjust for high tax rates The project will be realized in 2020.

Like many other initiatives by one-term mayors, it was controversial.

Last year, Mr. Lightfoot abruptly named Bally’s as the operator from among the three finalists, ostensibly without any substantive input from a city council committee. Created by Lightfoot to take care of all the long-coveted casino related issues.

Barry’s plan is strongly opposed by River North Aldo. Brendan Riley (42nd) predicts an increase in crime and traffic around the Medina, blaming the choice of location: 11th hour “Switch Lou”.

State regulators have given preliminary approval to plans to open a temporary casino at the Medina Temple (600 North Wabash Street) as early as this summer (pictured July 2022).

State regulators have given preliminary approval to plans to open a temporary casino at the Medina Temple (600 North Wabash Street) as early as this summer (pictured July 2022).

Anthony Vasquez/The Sun-Times

Bally officials said in a public meeting that they originally wanted to build a temporary casino near the permanent site at River West, but Lightfoot instead gave Bally’s the use of Medina, according to the people. said to have encouraged

The property is owned by Friedman Properties, which has made nearly $77,000 in rent-related payments since 2019 as the landlord of Lightfoot’s campaign fund, The Sun Times. Collecting. reported.

The former mayor’s office had previously said it was “not involved” in the selection of the Medina site. Lightfoot also endorsed Bally’s transportation and public safety plan while touting the $40 million advance the company paid to the city after it was approved by the city council.

Built in 1912 by the Shriners Fraternity, the Medina Temple is known for its copper “onion dome,” colorful stained-glass windows, and Moorish Revival architectural design. It has been home to the Shrine Circus for many years, and has hosted the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, college graduation practices, and most recently Bloomingdale’s Home his store.

Kim said Bally’s had “a good dialogue” with the office of the new mayor, Brandon Johnson, and called on opponents of the River North site to “come to Medina and judge for yourself.” . …I think you will like it. ” Illinois Gambling Commission Approves Bally’s Chicago Casino Early

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