Chicago’s first-ever casino passed inspections last week and opened its doors to players on Saturday, Sept. 9.
Last week, Bally’s had to pass trial runs with a small number of testers to receive its license from the Illinois Gaming Board. The casino passed and welcomed its first players on Saturday morning.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, players lined up as early as 6:30 a.m. to be among the first to spin the reels and hit the tables in The Windy City. The casino officially opened at 8 a.m. Players flocked to the casino floor now making its temporary home in the Medinah Temple.
Bally’s Chicago houses nearly 800 slots and more than 50 table games, plus restaurants and bars spread across three floors.
Chicago police and traffic control were present during opening day, hoping to quell some concerns of nearby residents.
Illinois governor says he’s proud to usher in a new era
Bally’s Chicago is the 14th casino to come online in Illinois. Illinois online casinos are still prohibited, but there are efforts underway to change that, hopefully in the near future.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has long been an advocate for expanding gambling options in Illinois. He proved instrumental in legalizing Illinois sports betting, and now he’s proud to welcome Bally’s to Chicago. Pritzker praised Bally’s in a tweet and told Illinoisans the casino would help pay off pension debt while creating hundreds of jobs in the city.
For years, Chicago pushed for a casino to help with its pension debt. Together with the GA, we made that happen with Bally’s Chicago.
Not only will millions of dollars go to paying off the debt, but hundreds of Chicagoans will have new good-paying jobs. https://t.co/nl5OfwYmpA
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) September 9, 2023
Chicagoans celebrating a first for the city
Among the dozens of players lined up to play at Bally’s, Steven Henry was the first. “I’ve already told Horseshoe goodbye,” he said to WGN News, referencing Horseshoe Casino Hammond in Indiana, a 30- to 60-minute drive from Chicago, depending on traffic.
Players in line seemed generally excited about the casino, with some unable to decide what to play. Blackjack, slots and craps were at the top of many players’ lists.
CBS News interviewed some of the casino’s first customers as well. One casino customer said it’s about time Chicago gets a casino.
“We’ve been overdue … we should’ve had a casino a long time ago.”
Bally’s temporary casino to be open for three years
Bally’s plans to break ground on its permanent River West casino in early 2024. The temporary location will remain open for at least three years until the permanent casino opens. Currently, Bally’s is aiming for a 2026 grand opening, though delays are common with projects of this size.
The temporary casino is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.