Bally's files application to build casino in Chicago
August 12, 2022
Bally's Corporation filed a casino application alongside the Illinois Gaming Board to build a gambling center in Chicago on Wednesday. The plan is to set forth a $1.7 billion riverfront casino resort at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.
The Providence-based interactive entertainment company has set a strict timeline to open its flagship property in Chicago. While the casino will not open before 2026, Bally's will set up a temporary casino at Medinah Temple sometime in June 2023.
Bally's would still have to get a license from the state, however, and finalizing the proposal with Chicago's planning department must be done within the company's own tight timeline.
"We look forward to working with the Illinois Gaming Board and the city of Chicago to bring a world-class entertainment destination resort to Chicago," Bally's vice president of corporate development, Christopher Jewett, said.
Bally's also has paid $40 million to the city as an upfront payment for the project in addition to a $250,000 application fee to the state.
More on Bally's casino plan in Chicago
Bally's upcoming casino project is ambitious, not only in its construction timeline but also in its size and cost, leading some to question whether the project would succeed at all. Chicago Sun Times' Mitchell Armentrout wrote, "Some Wall Street experts have questioned whether the company will be able to deliver on the ambitious project, which also calls for a hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, a Riverwalk extension, an outdoor park and a music venue, among other amenities."
Regardless, the plan to build a casino in a packed area in the River West corridor was already approved by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who also signed and pushed the casino proposal through Chicago's City Council back in May this year. What is missing from the checklist, however, is approval from the Chicago Plan Commission.
The board will have a year to review Bally's application, but it may be extended beyond that. State regulators in Illinois, for example, took more than two years in the case of the Hard Rock Casino Rockford, whose application remained in review and had to resort to opening a temporary casino in the fall of 2021.
There were many reasons behind the legislators' long and windy bureaucratic process. The Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter has said that the pandemic had caused massive delays in reviewing applications, leading to longer review time. Not to also mention that the board is still understaffed, and there is a fiercely competitive bidding process for suburban licenses.
Regardless, Bally's status may help cut down such a lengthy process. The company's gambling center in Rock Island had already received a license from the state. In addition, the area is a known entity for the Gaming Board, as per Armentrout.
Bally's upcoming casino has received slight resistance from the River North Residents Associations (RNRA), calling the company to re-run the review on its entire casino plan.
"Barring unforeseen developments, Bally's will be our neighbor and we want as positive and productive a relationship as possible for the good of all stakeholders," RNRA president Brian Israel said.
Bally's has responded to the RNRA, saying they have understood the association's concerns and "will consider this request".
"Bally's originally assumed that the outdoor performance venue would be a welcome amenity for the neighborhood, but now understands the significant concerns of nearby residents about associated noise, light, and traffic disruption near their homes. (We) will consider this request, pending input from other groups," the company responded.
Currently, RNRA has requested 42 proposed changes to Bally's casino plan. Among those are two percent of yearly revenue dedicated to problem gambling treatment programs, as well as a requirement that renewable fuels must be used for all Bally's vehicles.