Chicago City Alderman Brian Hopkins (D-Ward 2) recently stated that it is uncertain whether Bally’s Corporation will manage to build and open its $1.7 billion permanent integrated casino resort before September 9, 2026 as the state requires it. Still, he is among the most vocal opposers of the gaming operator’s permanent casino project in downtown Chicago.
Hopkins is confident that Chicago shouldn’t have picked Bally’s as the developer of its integrated casino. Governor JB Pritzker (D) and Illinois legislators passed new gaming legislation in 2019 that allowed downtown Chicago to host an integrated resort casino and the Windy City suburbs to host five extra small gaming properties. They made the resolution believing that gaming would support Illinois’ infrastructure spending and boost its Chicago fire and police pension programs.
Lori Lightfoot (D), then-mayor selected Bally’s Corporation as the city’s downtown casino’s developer in May 2022. The gaming operator won the bid after defeating Rush Street Gaming (RSI) and Hard Rock International.
Lightfoot stated that Bally’s had an irresistible offer. It gave Chicago $40 million after winning the license bid and pledged to pay an extra $4 million annually. However, it will still pay various taxes.
Bally’s claims that its permanent casino resort will hire 3,000 employees. Its gaming floor will comprise a bookie, 170 table games, and 3,400 slot machines. Still, it will have a 500-room resort hotel, a large outdoor amphitheater, a 3,000-seat theater, and six restaurants.
What About Financing?
Chicago allowed Bally’s to build a temporary gaming venue to help it fund its permanent casino’s construction. It developed the provisional venue in September in the Medinah Temple and raked in almost $6.7 million.
Even so, the casino’s revenue growth has reduced of late as it generated $7.6 million in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in October. Statistics show that 2,681 players visited the temporary casino daily in October, a significant decrease from 3,300 players in September.
Hopkins accuses Lightfoot of making the wrong choice claiming that Bally’s didn’t suit the downtown Chicago gaming license. Besides, he states that the City Council should have rejected the gaming operator’s bid. Ald. Brendan Reilly (D-Ward 42) and Hopkins were the city’s only aldermen who opposed Bally’s win.
Hopkins attended last week’s Chicago City Council meeting and stated that Bally’s temporary venue is underperforming. He added that this might hinder the company from raising enough funds to finance its permanent casino project.
Even so, Bally’s isn’t under pressure to start the casino’s construction soon. Hopkins said that it has several more years to the state’s deadline and it lacks the required funds. He believes that the company will operate at the Medinah longer if its temporary casino fails to improve its current performance.
Hopkins accused Bally’s of being inexperienced during the license’s bidding period. He fears it might decide to constantly renew its Medinah Temple gaming permit and eventually convert it to a permanent gaming site.
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