Chicago to have new casinos, slot machines at airports

May 8, 2022

It was on Tuesday when Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Bally’s Corporation as the winner of Chicago's casino license. The casino will be located in River West, but the process will need to pass through the City Council, the Illinois Gaming Board, and the local neighborhood resistance.

Bally’s was not alone in this casino bid because there were also Hard Rock and Rivers. Hard Rock planned to build the casino in the west part of Soldier Field, while Rivers would set the location in the South Loop.

In a press release, Mayor Lightfoot expressed his confidence in the upcoming $1.7 billion project with Bally.

"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," he said.

"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."

The $1.7 billion casino

The project will start after the proposal passes through the City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board. It will take years as the site needs to be redeveloped and, of course, a large sum of money.

The budget is $1.7 billion, which includes hundreds of hotel tower rooms; a theater with 3,000 seats; an outdoor park and music venue; restaurants and food hall; 3,400 slot machines; 170 game tables; fitness and spa; and an extension of the Riverwalk.

The development of this casino will also create 3,000 permanent jobs and help boost the local economy. According to the proposal, Bally’s offered $40 million upfront to the city, with an additional $4 million per year for the next following term.

If the calculation goes as planned, the casino will contribute as much as $200 million per year in tax revenue.

The exact timeline has not been published, but Bally’s hopes the casino will be ready by 2026. Bally’s will also open a temporary casino at Medinah Temple while they’re waiting for the construction of the permanent casino to be completed.

The temporary new casino will be located at 600 N. Wabash Ave., River North.

Slot machines at Chicago’s airport

Following the casino grant, there is a chance that the city will make slot machines available at Chicago’s two airports—O’Hare and Midway.

Las Vegas and Nevada have already offered similar gambling entertainment at their airports, while Pittsburgh has considered it.

Kim Soo, the chairman of Bally’s, said that putting slot machines at the airports was an "intriguing idea" that could help boost revenue and work as a marketing tool at the same time.

"I think it has to be done right, in conjunction with the other concessionaires at the airport. We can put a portion of our machine count in the airport. I think that will actually sort of help announce Bally’s presence," Kim said.

However, Lightfoot's office has not given any confirmation regarding this idea, as the city is currently focusing on the $1.7 billion casino plan at the River West.

Jake Williams
Jake Williams is a sports gambling expert. He's been writing in the sports betting and DFS industry for over a decade. He specializes in MLB and NBA, along with College Basketball and College Football.