Another major step towards the opening of the Bally’s Chicago mega-casino is complete with a temporary casino location approved by state officials.
The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) unanimously approved supplier licenses for groups associated with Chicago’s historic Medinah Temple. The first went to Medinah Building LLC, which oversees the building itself. The second went to Medinah Holdings LLC, which covers the land the building sits on.
Medinah, located at 600 Wabash Ave., is expected to serve as Bally’s temporary location for two to three years while the $1.7 billion permanent location is constructed on the site of the Chicago Tribune printing press.
What to expect from Bally’s temporary casino
Bally’s and city officials are hoping the Medinah Temple casino can start welcoming patrons this summer. However, Bally’s gaming license is still pending approval from the IGB.
Bally’s submitted its application in August 2022, and the IGB has up to one year to review it. A time extension for further examination of the application is also a possibility.
Bettors will have tons of gambling options at Medinah Temple if Bally’s does get the green light. The short-term casino will be open 24/7 and span three floors. It will house 800 slot machines, 50 table games, a bar and restaurant.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot estimates the temporary casino could generate up to $200 million in annual tax revenue.
The last minute temporary casino switch
The original plan was for the temporary casino to sit at the same location as the permanent casino: Chicago Ave. and Halsted St. in River West. But officials worried the traffic on Chicago Ave would be too dense during construction of the permanent location.
So in the 11th hour, Lightfoot reportedly urged Bally’s to move into Medinah Temple for the short-term. This didn’t sit well with 42nd Ward Ald. Brendan Reilly and River North residents. Reilly said:
“This was literally a switcheroo within the course of 24 hours after I had made it very clear that would be a nonstarter… That was a bait-and-switch.”
Reilly believes adding a casino in the city will cause an uptick in crime and put even more pressure on the undermanned Chicago Police Department. He also believes the traffic caused by a casino at Medinah Temple will be unbearable. Last October, when Bally’s released a traffic study showing it wouldn’t be a problem, Reilly didn’t hold back, saying:
“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.”