Three Applications Battling it Out for Chicago Casino Licence

The wait for a new casino in the city of Chicago has taken a step forward this month. The number of applicants for the licence has been whittled down from five to three.

The three finalists are Bally’s Corporation, Hard Rock and Rush Street Gaming. The proposed sites for the casino are all in different areas of the city. The two proposals that have been turned down came from Bally’s Corporation and Rush Street Gaming.

Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot’s administration had been planning to make a final decision in early 2022. This would then go to the City Council for the final approval. That’s been delayed and the city’s Chief Financial Officer, Jennie Bennett, now says it will be “early summer.”

The reason for the delay is the need for “community engagement” in the process. Early April will therefore see a two-hour community meeting be held for each of the proposals that have been made.

Once a community agreement has been approved by a committee of Chicago aldermen. The site that has been agreed on will then need not just approval from the City Council but also the Illinois Gaming Board.

The key factors in the decision that needs to be made have been laid out by the Chief Financial Officer. They include the speed at which the casino can be opened once approval has been given. Also of high importance is how much the casino will earn for the city.

“Time is of the essence to us,” said Bennett. “The city has been pursuing the casino for 30 years … We lose, as a city, about $200 million a year for every year that the casino isn’t open. So, speed to execution is extremely important to us.”

Bally’s Tribune would include a 500-room hotel and it’s believed the venue would bring in the most revenue at around $191 million a year.

The hope is that whichever casino application is finally chosen, it will create thousands of new jobs. Around $400 million in gaming and other revenues is estimated to be received for the city of Chicago and state of Illinois. More money will flow in from tourism and economic development with property values being enhanced.

The applicants say a temporary casino could be opened in April of next year. The Hard Rock team have said it’d be July 2025 when their permanent casino could open. That’s been called unrealistic in a city report into the applications.