People in Illinois will have to wait a bit longer for the opening of Bally’s temporary casino at Medinah Temple. The company now plans to open its temporary Chicago casino in September, a few weeks later than the initial mid-August opening plan.
In June, the Illinois Gaming Board voted to approve a “determination of preliminary suitability” for Bally’s plan for a temporary casino. The company still has a few hurdles to clear before officially opening the location, which could be playing a role in the delay of launching Chicago’s first casino.
Bally’s had hopes of opening temporary casino this summer
Bally’s has been remodeling the historic Medinah Temple, a former Bloomingdale’s, since January. Once completed, the old 130,000-square-foot building will serve as a temporary casino for up to three years. It will have the added benefit of being in the heart of Chicago. That location will give the facility a leg up over the other Illinois casinos.
The Illinois Gaming Board gave preliminary approval to Bally’s project in June, approving a determination of preliminary suitability. That was the first step in launching the temporary casino. However, it does not guarantee that the IGB will award Bally’s a temporary or permanent license.
IGB spokeswoman Beth Kaufman told the Chicago Sun-Times that the agency “continues to work with Bally’s Chicago to open the temporary casino at Medinah Temple in an ethical, compliant and efficient manner.”
The temporary casino still needs to participate in an on-site gaming test. That could happen soon. The final hurdle, however, remains a gaming test run on-site, which could happen soon. The preliminary suitability ruling has allowed Bally’s to start the move-in process. The company has been moving slots and table games into the facility. Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim told Chicago Tribune that all the machines have been installed.
“We’re in testing and regulatory mode. We’re just waiting to get through the final process so we can share it with the city of Chicago,” said Kim.
Any opening date will be past the target date initially set by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She wanted the city to start funneling casino tax revenue to its nearly insolvent police and firefighter pension funds by June. By next year, city officials are counting on up to $55 million in annual tax revenue from Medinah, which will house about 750 slot machines and 50 table games. Bally’s says over 11,000 job applications have been filed for the 700 positions available at Medinah.
Plans are for Bally’s permanent Chicago casino location to open in 2026
Meanwhile, plans are moving forward for Bally’s $1.74 billion permanent casino at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street. Construction at the 30-acre site isn’t expected to start until July 2024. and the gambling corporation plans to open the permanent location sometime in 2026.
Bally’s CEO Robeson Reeves says the company is confident in the significant pent-up consumer demand for the project and is eagerly anticipating generating results. Chicago executives are aiming to generate $200 million per year from the permanent casino.
The resort will feature 3,400 slots, 170 table games and 10 food and beverage venues. It will also offer a 500-room hotel tower with a rooftop bar and a 65,000-square-foot entertainment center.