Three Chicago casino community meetings took place earlier this month, and they presented an opportunity for residents to pepper Hard Rock, Bally’s and Rivers with questions.
And questions, there were. All three companies fielded questions and concerns from Chicagoans, many of whom oppose a casino in their neighborhood.
Their most common concerns were increased traffic, crime and problem gambling, decreased property values and an overall negative effect on their quality of life.
While those passionate enough to show up to a community meeting might not represent the public, the point remains: there are real concerns with all of the proposals. The concerns may not have a ton to do with the proposals themselves but rather are a natural cause of putting a casino in the third-largest city in the US.
Regardless, it appears that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her administration are undeterred. Lightfoot is expected to choose a winning Chicago casino bid by this summer.
Common concerns regarding the Chicago casino
Below, we summarize the most common concerns heard about each bid from residents and local officials:
Hard Rock One Central
Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) this week said she “cannot support” Hard Rock’s casino proposal plan near Soldier Field.
Dowell said in a statement:
“The Hard Rock Casino at One Central would be dropped into an existing, well-established family community in the Prairie District of Chicago’s South Loop. Because of that, I have concerns about the density of the Hard Rock Casino proposal.”
Dowell added that she supports a Chicago casino but opposes the Hard Rock project.
Meanwhile, there was much concern regarding the Hard Rock proposal at the community meeting around the One Central development. One Central is where the casino would reside, and the multibillion dollar, mixed-use development still needs approval.
Many residents oppose One Central for the same reason Dowell stated.
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) supports a Chicago casino but opposes one in his “political backyard.”
Reilly said that he hopes Mayor Lightfoot:
“Gives equal weight and consideration to the concerns expressed by River North, River West and Fulton River District residents as she will to those expressed by the residents of the 3rd and 25th wards. I support the City’s efforts to site a casino in Chicago — our public safety pension systems are counting on it.”
And also said that putting a casino into:
“One of the city’s already-thriving, fastest-growing, high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods would be a wasted economic development opportunity for Chicago.”
Residents, as one might imagine, were also not happy about the idea of putting a casino in the middle of their residential neighborhood at the community meeting.
Ald. Byron Sigcho Lopez (25th) went as far as to say the selection process is “rigged” and that “the writing is on the wall” in favor of the Rivers proposal. He opposes the project.
There was also a protest outside of the Rivers 78 community meeting. The casino would be near Chinatown, and Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community executive director Grace Chan McKibben has serious concerns about the proposal.
She said that Chinatown residents have been “uniquely preyed upon” by gaming companies and are especially vulnerable to casino advertising.
In addition, she expressed concerns about noise, traffic, etc.