Local Official Slams Bally’s Casino Chicago Traffic Report

Written By Matt Boecker on October 5, 2022
Local Official Slams Bally's Casino Chicago Traffic Report_Traffic jam on a busy highway at rush hour. Cars in line, bumper to bumper, stuck in traffic at dusk on a clear sky night

Bally’s Casino Chicago is facing another challenge on the path to licensing from the Illinois Gaming Board.

Recently, Bally’s officials unveiled a report showing a temporary casino in the Medinah Temple won’t cause an overload of traffic in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately, a Chicago alderperson still panned the report.

Medinah Temple sits between Ontario and Ohio Streets to the north and south. To the east is Wabash Ave, and to the west is State St.

Bally’s temporary casino intends to open sometime in Summer 2023. It will operate until the permanent casino opens its doors. Currently, there is no timeline for the long-term location opening, but construction will likely take a few years.

Bally’s plans to build its permanent casino at a vacant Chicago Tribune printing press and newsroom site along the Chicago River.

Report: temporary casino will not negatively affect local traffic

The report shows no negative impact on traffic in the area at Bally’s Medinah Temple casino.

The study analyzed photos of traffic taken on a Thursday and Friday in May. The report expects the short-term casino to bring 462 new vehicle trips to the neighborhood during weekday rush hour. On Friday nights, the report anticipates 516 new trips. Both times are known to be peak visiting hours for casinos.

The report also predicts that only 60% of bettors drive to the casino. The remaining 40% will walk, bike or take public transport.

Additionally, the study noted that 5,000+  nearby parking spots should cover the maximum demand of 500 at any given time. Garage parking will be handy because Medinah Temple has no parking on site.

The report also claims valet service and traffic control officers during peak hours will help maintain traffic flow.

Alderperson: study is seriously flawed, overly vague

Brendan Reilly, alderperson for Chicago’s 42nd Ward, didn’t mince words when sharing his thoughts on the report.

Reilly said he wasn’t surprised by the report’s results, as Bally’s paid V3 Companies and Fish Transportation Group to conduct the study.

In his 16 years in office, he has never seen a study funded by the company behind the project come back with a negative traffic report.

Reilly said:

“As far as I’m concerned, this study is seriously flawed, overly vague and clearly written for the sole purpose of concluding a casino will work at Medinah Temple. Having read literally hundreds of traffic studies over the years, I can tell you this one is thin gruel and lacks the credibility that an independent analysis would’ve provided.”

Reilly’s first gripe with the study is the unrealistic estimation of bettors who will walk or use public transit.

“Nobody would be stupid enough to ride the CTA or walk to a casino with cash in hand,” he said. He added he “fundamentally disagrees” with the report’s many assumptions and believes the new vehicle trips were significantly understated.

Reilly also questions the evidence cited in the comparison of Bally’s Chicago to casinos in big other cities:

“The consultant claims to have made its trip projections based on other casinos in similarly dense, heavily built urban environments like Chicago. I find that hard to believe, given there aren’t other casinos in cities as large as Chicago.”

“If you can show me one valet in the City of Chicago that has ever ‘improved traffic conditions’ at a particular location, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.”

Photo by Daniel Avram, Shutterstock
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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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