International edition
May 17, 2021

Mayor Lori Lightfoot hopes a winning bidder is chosen by the end of this year

Wynn Resorts interested in Chicago casino project

Wynn Resorts interested in Chicago casino project
Wynn Resorts was among several Las Vegas-based companies that responded to a request for information regarding the Chicago casino project.
United States | 03/12/2021

A Wynn spokesman said, “When a large city of significance decides to consider a gaming resort, we are interested. Chicago fits that profile." The Mayor hopes to work with regulators on a expedited approval process that could see the casino opened by 2025 at the latest. MGM, Hard Rock and Rush Street also participated in a request for information the city made last year.

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ynn Resorts was among several Las Vegas-based companies that responded to a request for information regarding the Chicago casino project, according to the city of Chicago's website.

“When a large city of significance decides to consider a gaming resort, we are interested. Chicago fits that profile," Wynn spokesman Michael Weaver said, as reported by Crain's Chicago Business.

MGM Resorts International, along with MGM Growth Properties, a real estate trust firm associated with MGM Resorts, also responded to the request. But an MGM Resorts spokesman said that doesn't necessarily mean the company is interested in the project.

The request for information asked companies to respond to general questions such as where the resort should be located, how much land would be required, how long construction would take and how many hotel rooms should be included.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hopes a winning bidder for the city’s sole casino license is chosen by the end of this year. The city will put out a request for proposals in early April and the state’s gaming board will decide the winner with input from local officials over the following months. The timeline of the request for proposals will be released in the coming weeks. The mayor said she hopes to work with regulators on a expedited approval process that could see the casino opened by 2025 at the latest. Lightfoot has considered a casino as an option to raise cash since she took office.

“This is taking too long,” Lightfoot said in an interview. “I’m an impatient person by nature.” The opportunity is one of the rare events where a major U.S. city gives an exclusive license to operate a casino. Chicago’s expansion, first approved by state legislators in 2019, has been delayed -- initially by conditions originally put in place that made the project less attractive to potential operators and then by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislature went back last year and tweaked the requirements, lowering the overall tax rate from about 72% to about 40%, according to Grant Govertsen, a consultant with Union Gaming who advised state regulators. Other terms were also changed such as the license fee, which can now be paid over six years instead of two.

While a permanent structure is built, the operator could have the opportunity to set up a temporary casino for up to 36 months. That could jump start the flow of revenue to the city but not to the magnitude as the permanent one, Lightfoot said.

A half-dozen gaming companies participated in a request for information the city made last year. Participants included MGM Resorts International, Rush Street Gaming, Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Hard Rock International, although their input does not mean they’ll submit a bid. The greater Chicago area is already fairly well served by casinos. Hard Rock is building two: one in Rockford and another in neighboring Gary, Indiana.

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