The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) gave Bally’s Corporation the go-ahead to develop a temporary gaming venue at Medinah Temple in River North last week. But, the neighborhood’s residents dread the casino will escalate traffic and crime in the region.
The Temple is in the downtown Chicago district, and Bally’s plans to construct a $1.7 billion integrated gaming resort there. It will be the City’s first such property northwest of the Loop downtown district.
Besides, the Medinah Temple will remain active until the gaming operator completes constructing its permanent venue. It has served in different ways for 111 years and has been unoccupied since 2020.
The River North Residents Association (RNRA) is concerned that the two neighborhoods will experience more traffic congestion and crime once the casino starts operating. Besides, Chicago is the third biggest City in the country.
The association stated in a statement that River West and River North neighborhoods will have a long-term traffic gridlock. It wants the City’s agencies to enlighten residents on the traffic routes and measures it will take to prevent congestion from streets in each residential area that is near the temporary casino. Policymakers accuse Bally’s Corporation of not revealing the truth about how its casino will affect the neighborhoods.
Soaring Crime Incidents
Many neighborhood residents are often concerned whenever a new casino is launched in their region, fearing that it will promote crime. Yet, certain studies reveal that increased crime lacks a direct relation with gaming properties.
Chicago has a high crime rate. So, its residents’ security concern is valid. Statistics from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) state that had reduced sexual assault and murder cases. But, motor vehicle theft, theft, robbery, and burglary incidents increased.
For example, 75 people in the City got shot in the latest three-day weekend, and 13 of them died. River North has a high crime rate exceeding the country’s average, but it is below Chicago’s percentage.
Movoto states that River North reports 78 property and 13 violent crimes annually. It is equal to 25.15 property crimes and 4.19 violent incidents per 1,000 residents.
So, the neighborhood’s violent crime rate is lower than the City’s, which stands at nine per 1,000 locals. Although River North’s crime data isn’t perfect, it is better than Chicago’s. But, locals believe that building a casino will worsen the current situation.
What Do Residents Want?
The RNRA claims that CPD and Bally’s are capable of securing the temporary casino’s block. But it doubts whether the police and gaming company can secure the whole neighborhood.
Bally’s promises to halt all outdoor activities at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. But, the RNRA wants it to ensure its bars’ service hours resemble those of different watering holes to prevent merrymakers from leaving a bar when it closes and shifting to the casino to drink.
Bally’s hasn’t disclosed to the area’s leaders how it will address traffic and crime concerns.
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