Next step: Illinois Gaming Board

Chicago's full City Council approves Bally's casino proposal

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot during a press conference Wednesday after the full council vote.
2022-05-26
United States
Reading time 1:58 min

The full Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted 41 to 7 to approve Bally's Corporation casino project valued at $1.74 billion, which would become the first and sole casino in the city.

"I'm grateful that I'm able to stand here representing, I think the fruition of 30 years of effort," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. "We asked the city to bet on Bally's and you have and we're honored," Bally's Board Chairman Soo Kim stated.



Bally's Chair Soo Kim during a press conference Wednesday after the vote.

During the meeting, presided by Lightfoot, several aldermen spoke out against the project and criticized the Mayor's handling of the process, saying it was rushed, and that disclosures and other necessary information weren't provided upfront. Projected revenues were one big concern when the special committee sent the deal to the full council on Monday, with the money earmarked for pensions so property taxes don't have to be raised.

During one vehement exchange, Byron Sigcho-Lopez of the 25th Ward referred to the project as a "failed process," saying the Lightfoot administration is "more worried with campaign contributions than doing the right thing for the city of Chicago," NBC Chicago reports. Banging her gavel, Lightfoot fired back shouting, "You are a liar sir. You are out of order. I will not sit here silently while you besmirch my reputation and the people that work for me."


Ald. Tom Tunney, chairman of the special casino committee, on Wednesday.

The resort is planned for the former Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing plant in River West at N. Halsted St. and W. Chicago Ave., but that land has yet to be developed. According to Lightfoot's office, that's expected to take three years, with the projected opening date sometime in 2026. In the meantime, a proposed temporary casino site in River North at the Medinah Temple, 600 N. Wabash in the 42nd Ward, could be up and running by Q2 2023.

As part of its proposal, Bally's offered the city $40 million upfront and $4 million per year after that. The city estimates a casino will bring in $200 million a year in tax revenue, money that is earmarked for police and fire pensions, according to officials. Also, Bally's has committed to 60% minority hiring for its nearly 3,000 permanent jobs.

After full city council approval, the project's next step is the Illinois Gaming Board, and then back to the city council for zoning and other approvals.

 

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