Bally’s Chicago Moves To 24/7 Operation

Written By T.J. McBride on December 28, 2023
Slot machines in Bally's Chicago on a story about the casino now being open 24/7.

As 2023 winds down, Bally’s Chicago is winding up. The downtown Chicago casino will became a 24/7 operation Tuesday.

After receiving approval from the Illinois Gaming Board, the temporary casino is set to keep its doors open every hour of every day until its permanent resort is built.

The casino in Medinah Temple is also adding other enhancements, including The Wabash Café being open at all times, adding discounted parking and expanding shuttle services.

Bally’s Chicago now ranks 4th in state for monthly revenue

With more than a dozen casinos in Illinois, gaming is thriving in the Prairie State. While Illinois online casinos remain illegal, lawmakers are expected to debate the issue during the next legislative session that starts in January.

Bally’s Chicago opened on Sept. 9. Since then, it has climbed the ranks in revenue among Illinois casinos. After a slow start, Bally’s was fourth overall in revenue generated in November with $7.6 million. The move to a 24/7 operation should move it even higher.

Bally’s has been open 20 hours a day since opening. To expand its hours, Bally’s sought approval from state regulators. They granted the request on Dec. 6.

Casinos in Illinois were not allowed to be open 24/7 until a gambling expansion bill was passed in 2019. The bill also allowed riverboat casinos to move onto land and added six new casino licenses. Bally’s Chicago secured one of those.

Expanded hours of operation will help casino compete, officials say

It is not unique for a casino to pursue 24/7 operational hours because gaming licenses are expensive. To get the most out of those licenses, many casinos opt to stay open as often as possible to host as many guests as possible.

Mark Wong, vice president and GM of Bally’s Chicago, believes the expanded hours will help the casino compete in a competitive market.

“Opening our doors 24/7 is an important step as we continue to increase our visitation. This is a progression toward attaining the goals we set out to achieve and gives us similar hours to other local casino properties.”

In November, Bally’s Chicago welcomed 86,459 guests, which was second in the state.

Bally’s President George Papanier, during a recent earnings call, said the casino is right on track.

“… We are pleased with the September opening of our Chicago temporary casino. We have satisfied our critical operating criteria and execution milestones, and expect to receive the necessary regulatory support to expand and accelerate marketing initiatives beginning later this month, which will enable us to bolster revenue.”

Work on permanent casino should begin in early fall

Moving to 24/7 operational hours will help with revenue, but the big boost will come when the permanent facility is built and opened to the public. According to Papanier, construction should begin in the second half of 2024.

“Regarding the Chicago permanent facility, by the end of 2023, we will have accounted for the majority of the soft costs outlined in the budget shared when the project was announced in 2022. We expect construction of the permanent facility to commence in the second half of 2024 once the [Tribune Company vacates] the premises in July.”

Bally’s Chicago has helped to boost overall revenue numbers at Illinois casinos. Casinos in the state collected $16.3 million more in revenue in November than was collected a year earlier.

Photo by Cole Rush
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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver. He covers the gaming landscape across multiple states in addition to his main beat covering the NBA's Denver Nuggets. His NBA work can be found at several major media outlets including ESPN, FiveThirtyEight and Bleacher Report.

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