Chicago Releases Details For All Five Casino Proposals

Written By Joe Boozell on November 23, 2021

The Chicago casino project Request For Proposals deadline was at the end of October, and the city received five bids.

Bally’s and Rush Street Gaming are involved in two proposals apiece, while Hard Rock is responsible for one. And as we’ve recently learned, all five proposals call for well over a $1 billion investment.

On Dec. 16, the city is planning a meeting where bidders can present their plans to the public. From there, Chicago will choose a winner and apply for a license with the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said that the city hopes to determine a winner in the first quarter of 2022. Let’s take a look at the details for all five bids.

Rivers Chicago McCormick

Source: City of Chicago

This is one of the Rush Street Gaming bids. The plan would cost $1.3 billion, and the casino would be located at the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place.

McCormick Place is near Soldier Field. There would be 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games at the casino as well as 12 restaurants and cafes.

Developers say a temporary casino would not be necessary for this site, as repurposing the Lakeside Center would not take as much time as building from scratch. There are also already more than 2,900 hotel rooms on-site with the potential to add more.

The proposal also calls for the Arie Crown Theater to be updated. However, this could be controversial, as some in the convention industry could oppose the casino.

This is the least expensive proposal of the five and would only take a year to complete.

Rivers 78

Source: City of Chicago

Rush Street’s other proposal calls for a casino between the South Loop and Chinatown in ‘The 78‘ megadevelopment site. It would sit along the Chicago River.

With a $1.6 billion price tag, the entertainment district would feature 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games. There would also be a 300-room hotel to go along with bars, restaurants, a food hall, an observation tower and a riverfront plaza.

There would be a temporary casino under this plan, unlike the other Rush Street proposal. It would be at a riverboat docked within The 78 site.

The site is described as the “most accessible” of the five, per the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bally’s Chicago Tribune Publishing Center

Source: City of Chicago

Also known as the current Freedom Center site, this plan costs up to $1.7 billion. The casino would also sit along the Chicago River near Halsted and Ohio streets in the near north neighborhood.

The facility would feature 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games as well as a 500-room hotel. There would also be a 70,000-square foot, 3,000-seat entertainment venue.

Developers also mention a rooftop space with bars, lounges and pools, as well as a Bally Sports Bar that would feature “constant celebrity athlete events” and a “truly immersive sports experience” that includes a Chicago sports museum.

Bally’s also touts that it has no other Chicago interests in its plan, seemingly a nod to Rush Street Gaming’s history in the area. And for both bids, Bally’s would want to place slot machines at the O’Hare and Midway airports.

Bally’s McCormick Place

Source: City of Chicago

While this proposal location is similar to the Rivers bid, the facility would instead be at the current Truck Marshaling Yard, a 28-acre area for freight trucks.

This plan would cost up to $1.6 billion. The casino numbers are very similar to the other proposal, as it would have the same number of slots and table games. It would also have a same-sized entertainment venue.

Local Ald. Sophia King (4th) adamantly opposes this plan, as she believes the casino would negatively impact life in her community.

Hard Rock One Central

Source: City of Chicago

Hard Rock’s bid is trickier than the others, as the location is at the proposed One Central development.

However, Once Central has not received city or state approval itself. The massive development would need $6.5 billion in state financing, which would appear to be a major hurdle for Hard Rock. Especially since Chicago wants to pick a winner soon.

At any rate, One Central would be located at a 35-acre train yard near Soldier Field, and that’s where the casino facility would be. The price tag is $1.7 billion.

The temporary casino would be at McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, which is the proposed site of one of the Rush Street Gaming bids.

Hard Rock’s casino would feature 3,400 slot machines and 166 table games as well as a 500-room hotel. There would also be bars, restaurants, an entertainment venue and a spa.

Photo by City of Chicago
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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