Bally’s Chicago Casino Gets Green Light From Chicago City Council

Chicago Ballys Casino Green Light

  • Bally’s $1.74 billion casino project received the approval from the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.
  • The proposal will now head to the Illinois Gaming Board for license issuance.
  • Bally’s Chicago will have 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games.

Bally’s $1.74 billion casino project in Chicago is moving forward after getting the nod from the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.

The City Council voted 41-7 to approve Bally’s proposal to build a casino in River West, ending a 30-year journey while giving Mayor Lori Lightfoot a massive victory as she chases a second term.

The proposal will now be forwarded to the Illinois Gaming Board which now must license Bally’s to operate the casino set to be built along the Chicago River near Chicago Avenue and Halstead Street and will replace the current Chicago Tribune printing plant and newsroom.

Bally’s Chicago will have 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games. The resort would feature six restaurants and cafes in addition to a food hall and three bars and lounges. It will also have a 70,000-square-foot concert venue with a 3,000 sitting capacity and a 20,000-square-foot event venue. The permanent casino is expected to open in 2026.

One of Three Applicants

Bally’s was one of three applicants to submit a proposal to the city last November. Back then, the company appeared to have the inside track on winning the bidding after a study from the city’s gaming consultant revealed that Bally’s would be the most lucrative for the city. According to the study, Bally’s was the only applicant without a nearby casino hence it would drive more gamblers and revelers directly to the city.

The company also signed a deal with the Chicago Federation of Labor to ensure that construction and later casino workers will be allowed to create and participate in labor unions. Aside from that, Bally’s proposal promised that 60% of the jobs created by the casino will be given to Blacks, Latinos, and Asian workers. Bally’s will also create jobs specifically targeting Chicago neighborhoods with the highest levels of unemployment and poverty.

Mayor Lightfoot Seeking a Second Term

In the weeks leading to the vote, Mayor Lightfoot urged the City Council to act swiftly on the matter and allow revenue to start flowing from the temporary casino site at the Medinah Temple in River North as early as next year. She also lobbied for the 3,000 construction jobs that the casino will create in every construction year and the 3,000 permanent jobs the city desperately needs as it continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lightfoot is set to run for re-election and seek a second term. Without a doubt, her success in bringing a casino to the city three years after she took office would add to her stock considering former Chicago mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emmanuel failed to do so in the previous three decades. In 2020, Lightfoot was able to convince state lawmakers to revise the tax structure for a Chicago casino.

Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.

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