Bally’s Casino isn’t open for business yet, but the company is already writing checks for Chicago. Bally’s just handed the city a $40 million payment as part of its deal to build a casino in River West.
The money will help Chicago cover its shortfall for the fire and police pension funds. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was quick to put out a statement thanking Bally’s.
“This is the first down payment from the casino on the future of Chicago’s pensions and a clear indication of the City’s commitment to its hard-working public safety professionals. In the years to come, the Chicago Casino is projected to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the City, with many of those revenues earmarked for pensions.”
Detractors have already noted that the $40 million is just a drop in the bucket to handle the city’s pension issues. And that future administrators will have to find money to handle the shortfall.
Regardless, the new multi-purpose property will be a highlight to the booming Illinois casino industry.
Bally’s Chicago on the way
Bally’s won the right to build a casino in Chicago, edging out Hard Rock International and hometown Rush Street Gaming.
Lightfoot reasoned that Bally’s didn’t have any other casino interests in the Chicago area. And also, that they were the only company that offered to write a quick check for $40 million.
Bally’s will be creating up to 6,000 temporary and permanent jobs as part of the project, and the company will pay for fixes to the area infrastructure to help negate traffic congestion.
Bally’s has also pledged to pay the city $4 million every year. The casino projects to generate $200 million in yearly tax revenue.
A temporary casino will open up in mid-2023 on Wabash Avenue. The temporary spot will have up to 800 slot machines and table games.
The Chicago City Council approved the Bally’s casino bid by a vote of 41-7 in May.
Now things are in the hands of the Illinois Gaming Board. If the board approves of the company’s plans, then the group will issue Bally’s a casino license.
The big Bally’s bet
The land-based casino will be located along the north branch of the Chicago River on Grand Avenue. It’s also where the Tribune Freedom Center printing plant stands on 30 acres.
The Bally’s casino project will cost $1.76 billion. The $40 million was called an “impact fee” as part of the negotiations.
Bally’s Chicago promises 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games. The company plans to open 10 eating establishments and a 5-star 500-room luxury hotel tower overlooking the river.
That’s in addition to a 3,000-seat entertainment indoor venue and an outdoor music space with seating for 1,000.
If everything stays on schedule, then the casino will open sometime in late 2025.