Bally’s Opening Chicago’s First Casino At Medinah Temple After Labor Day

Written By Dave Briggs on August 24, 2023 - Last Updated on October 12, 2023
Chicago River, bridges open

The opening of Chicago’s first casino could be just weeks away. The temporary Bally’s casino at the Medinah Temple is expected to open to the public in the second week of September.

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting the Illinois Gaming Board will inspect the facility in Chicago’s River North district on Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day. On Sept. 6 and 7, the IGB will oversee practice gaming sessions at the newest Illinois casino.

Then, IGB administrator Marcus Fruchter will have the final say on whether to issue Bally’s Chicago a temporary operating permit for the Medinah Temple site.

IGB spokeswoman Beth Kaufman told the Sun-Times:

“Based on the results of the operations assessment/audit and practice gaming sessions, administrator Fruchter will determine whether, and to what extent, to allow gaming to operate at Medinah Temple.”

But, presuming all goes well, the facility could open to the public as soon as the end of the first week of September, but, more likely, the start of the second week of the month.

The two newest casinos in Illinois — The Temporary in Waukegan and the Golden Nugget Danville — opened within a few days of successful practice gaming sessions.

Temporary location to be open until 2026 while permanent Bally’s casino is built

Bally’s Medinah Temple temporary casino is expected to be open until well into 2026 while the $1.74 billion permanent Bally’s Chicago casino is being built on the site of the former Chicago Tribune printing plant in River West.

Meanwhile, the Medinah Temple casino will be home to 750 slot machines and 50 table games. Bally’s has said over 11,000 job applications have been filed for the 700 positions available at Medinah.

Bally’s originally hoped it would be given the green light to open the Medinah Temple location by mid-August. But, recently, the company announced the date had been pushed back, slightly, into September.

In June, the IGB voted to approve a “determination of preliminary suitability” for Bally’s plan for a temporary casino.

Bally’s signs went up on the Medinah Temple in July.

In early August,Kaufman told the 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.”

When the facility does open, it will be past the target initially set by former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She wanted the city to start funneling casino tax revenue to its nearly insolvent police and firefighter pension funds by June.

Bally’s executives have said they expect the Medinah property to produce a monthly profit of between $3.5 million and $5 million through the end of 2023, and up to $60 million with a full year of gambling in 2024.

In 2024, city officials are counting on up to $55 million in annual tax revenue from Medinah.

Medinah Temple casino expected to be impressive

Book Club of Chicago reported that Bally’s teamed up with STL Architects to renovate the 111-year-old building located at 600 N. Wabash Ave. The Medinah Temple was most recently used by department store chain Bloomingdales from 2003-2019.

Designers have left the Medinah Temple’s atrium and stained glass windows untouched. The latter will be protected from visitors by partitions. Back-of-house operations will use the original stage and presidium areas.

The first floor will house most of the casino’s slot machines, as well as a large, backlit bar and a cafe.

Up the escalator to the second floor, customers will find the table games, remaining slot machines and cashier cages.

The third floor is for VIPs and high rollers. The games will feature higher stakes and higher payoffs. This floor will also feature two restaurants — one offering casual American food, the other Asian cuisine.

Book Club of Chicago also reported that Bally’s “is also in the early process of possibly installing game machines at Midway and O’Hare airports. Bally’s has been granted exclusive rights for that, but the move will require a separate approval process.”

Construction on permanent Bally’s Chicago casino to begin in 2024

Construction on the permanent Bally’s Chicago casino isn’t expected to begin until July 2024. The facility is being built on a 30-acre site at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

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.

Chicago city officials are hoping to takin in almost $200 million per year from the permanent casino. The facility is projected to rake in more than $800 million per year by 2028.

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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in North America with an emphasis on the casino, sports betting, horse racing and poker sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Illinois and Canada.

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