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Bally’s $1.7 Billion Casino Approved by Chicago City Council

  • Written By Samantha Browne
  • Edited
  • Reading 3 minutes

An end is near to Chicago’s 30-year effort to build a casino and entertainment complex. More than three weeks after Mayor Lori Lightfoot backed the $1.7 billion River West plan by Bally’s Entertainment, the City Council gave the company the green light to construct and establish a temporary facility in River North’s Medinah Temple.

Upfront Benefits

This arrangement includes a “labor peace” accord and Bally’s promise to pay “living wages” to both construction workers and permanent casino staff members. For police and fire pensions and other financial, contractual and employment obligations, a $40 million advance payment is also part of the same deal.

When it comes to public safety, it includes a $2 million donation to the temporary casino and $1 million to the site of the permanent casino. There is also $1 million reserved for “community benefits” to be chosen by Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th).

What to Expect

According to Bally’s plan, the casino would include six restaurants and a dining hall, as well as 3,400 slot machines and 170 table games when it opens. The casino is also going to create thousands of temporary employment opportunities during construction and roughly 3,000 permanent ones once it opens for business.

“It goes without saying that this is a major, major milestone in our city. I have talked about the fact that over the last three decades, this was tried but not accomplished. And now because of the work of so many people who are here with us today, and thanks to today’s approval by City Council, we are making a long-sought dream a reality.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot

At $200 million, Bally’s casino is likely to balance the city’s police and fire pension deficit by the end of its second year of operation. That is much higher than what any of the other casino contenders had to offer. In addition to that, city authorities estimate that the temporary casino will generate a whopping $55 million in tax revenue in its first year.

A Hasty Process

Some alderpeople and neighbors have protested the arrangement, even though it has several advantages. Some have compared the hasty nature of the procedure to that of Chicago’s infamous parking meter agreement. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who headed the city’s special casino committee, stated that the city’s three-year process of selecting a casino was a fair bargain for the city.

The Lightfoot administration had set a deadline of the end of the month for submitting the casino application to state authorities. With City Council’s approval, they are likely to meet that deadline.

Samantha has a passion for all things casino, especially for the development in new slots games and technology. She has a background in psychology and loves to study strategies behind gambling in her spare time.