City projected $12.8M, received $3.1M

Chicago: Bally's temporary casino logs $30.4 million profit, but falls almost $10 million short of city’s tax revenue goal

Reading time 1:52 min

Bally’s temporary casino at the Medinah Temple, Chicago, recorded a profit totaling nearly $30.4 million during the period spanning from its mid-September launch through December.

As per the latest data released by the Illinois Gaming Board, approximately $3.1 million of this profit was allocated to the city in gaming tax revenue. However, this contribution constitutes less than a quarter of the $12.8 million in casino revenue initially projected in former Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The city's anticipated share of casino proceeds is earmarked to address the fiscal challenges of its police and firefighter pension funds.
Despite falling short of the initial revenue projection, Bally’s had paid the city an upfront fee of $40 million as part of the agreement that secured its casino approval in 2022. Delays in the opening, attributed to state regulatory hurdles, impacted marketing efforts and operational hours. The casino, now operational 24/7, is projected to accept bets until September 2026 as the corporation works on constructing a permanent site at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

In December, the temporary casino at 600 N. Wabash Ave. recorded about $8.5 million in revenue, contributing approximately $865,000 to the city. Bally’s, the second-most visited casino in the state, is surpassed only by Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, which reported $45.4 million in revenue from over 279,000 admissions in December.

“Bally’s continues to build its relationship with Chicago gaming customers by offering our guests new and convenient ways to visit the property,” Bally’s Chicago general manager Mark Wong said in a statement, as per the report. “We’ve added free parking, new promotions, and expanded hours to meet customers’ expectations. In December we saw our highest attendance and revenues to date.”

Bally’s now faces the challenge of meeting Mayor Brandon Johnson's ambitious 2024 budget expectation of $35 million in contributions to public safety pension funds. The corporation will need a substantial increase in its daily revenue rate, which currently stands at approximately $26,779, to meet this target.

“We are pleased that Bally’s Chicago Casino has experienced positive revenue numbers at its temporary facility by the end of 2023. The revenue growth is a positive sign for both the casino and the city of Chicago. Economic contributions from such establishments play a crucial role in boosting the local economy, creating job opportunities, and enhancing the overall business environment,” Mayor Johnson
said in a statement, as per the report.

The Civic Federation, in its annual budget review, cautioned that revenue from the Chicago casino may not be a stable source, citing a decade-long decline in state-wide casino revenue. Meanwhile, Bally’s landlord at Medinah Temple, Albert Friedman, has received more than $3.8 million in monthly rent payments since the lease commenced in December 2022.

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