Bally’s snags sole casino license in Chicago

May 5, 2022

$1.7bn project will generate 3,000 permanent jobs.

The office of Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot on Thursday said the city has selected Bally’s Corporation to be the recipient of its sole casino license.

Bally’s beat out two other finalists and will serve as the developer in charge of creating a casino-resort and entertainment experience in the Windy City.

According to city officials, the proposal from Bally’s entails a $1.7bn casino project and hotel on a portion of the current industrial Tribune Publishing Center.

The project is slated to include a 3,000-seat theater; an Immerse Agency exhibition experience; an extension of the Riverwalk; pedestrian bridge; a 500-room hotel tower; an outdoor park; an outdoor music venue; an amenity terrace featuring a large pool spa, fitness center and sun deck; and six restaurants, cafes and a food hall.

Officials said the casino will offer space for 3,400 slots and 170 table games. Bally’s projected the development will add more than 3,000 construction jobs annually and 3,000 permanent casino jobs.

Mayor Lightfoot’s office said it selected Bally’s proposal as it met or exceeded core goals outlined by the casino selection committee, including: economic and financial benefits to the city, job creation, equity measures, and meeting design, planning, amenities, and transportation standards.

Bally’s provided a $40m upfront payment at the time of the signing of the Host Community Agreement, and committed to paying $4m per year thereafter.

According to the city, Bally’s provided the highest minimum capital commitment to the project, and is the only submitting operator that did not have a competing casino in the Chicagoland region.

Bally’s has completed an agreement with organized labor, which the city deemed necessary for the process to move forward. Bally’s will commit to 60% minority hiring and will create a jobs program specifically targeting neighborhoods with the highest levels of unemployment and lowest income.

The jobs program will include clear "career pathways for upward mobility."

In addition, the city cited Bally’s ability to build and operate a temporary casino at the Medinah Temple. The parties said this site was chosen due to its proximity to major transit and retail/hospitality corridors, as well as its ability to assist in the city’s post-Covid revitalization.

“I am proud to announce that Bally's Corporation will create a world-class entertainment district in our city that will delight residents and tourists alike,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “Following significant analyses and community input on all aspects of our three finalists for Chicago’s casino license, the selection committee and I have chosen Bally’s to move forward in the development of the city’s first integrated casino resort. We are confident that Bally’s Tribune Publishing Center development will shore up the city’s pension funds, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and lead to a bright financial future for our city.”

Soo Kim, Chairman of the Bally’s Corporation Board of Directors, added: “We would like to thank Mayor Lightfoot and her office for conducting a tough, but fair, RFP process, and selecting Bally’s Chicago as the final bidder for the city’s casino. Chicago is a unique and vibrant city, deserving of world-class gaming and entertainment destination that is of, by, and for the people by driving the local economy, supporting local labor, creating multigenerational wealth for minority investors, and showcasing the best of what the city has to offer. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with Mayor Lightfoot, and all of our valued community partners on this exciting endeavor.”

Illinois Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said a Chicago casino will provide a “real boost” to the city’s revenues, including a projected $200m to support police and fire pension funds, as well as $200m to the government of Illinois to support capital improvement projects statewide.

“Even more importantly, the casino will create thousands of new jobs and repatriate gaming revenues going to fund Indiana essential services,” Cole said. “This is clearly an important project for both the city and the state.”


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