A special Chicago casino committee just gave Bally’s the thumbs up to build its new casino in River West. The group endorsed the company’s plans with a 27-3 vote on Monday.
The committee’s decision sets up a full vote for the Chicago City Council on Wednesday. That final approval from the council would be a big milestone for the Chicago casino project.
Committee approves Bally’s casino
Mayor Lori Lightfoot already selected Bally’s as the winning bidder for the casino project earlier this month.
However, Lightfoot’s approval wasn’t the final step for the process. The city of Chicago still had to give the casino plans the green light.
Lightfoot was hoping that a City Council vote would take place by this Wednesday. It looks like she’s going to get her wish.
The special committee was originally scheduled to vote on May 20, but the group ended up pushing things back for the sake of extra preparation.
The group opted to defer and publish its recommendation to approve the Bally’s casino plans on Monday. In other words, the Chicago City Council will be holding its final vote on May 25.
Things are moving forward, so Bally’s Chicago casino is inching closer to opening for business in River West.
The final $1.7 billion casino won’t be ready to take wagers until 2026, but Bally’s is building a temporary casino to serve gamblers in the meantime. That temporary building plans to open sometime next year.
Lightfoot and company have been hoping to finish this entire process quickly. Their goal is to get the temporary casino up and running quickly in order to avoid a property tax increase in the city.
A quick process is still on the table since the city is finally on board with the plans. Despite that, there are still some hurdles to clear locally that could muck up the timeline.
Opposition in Chicago
The casino committee’s approval was hardly a done deal at the start of this process.
Bally’s has received all sorts of backlash for its casino plans in the city.
First and foremost, local officials have raised concerns about ties between Bally’s and a financial firm that played a key role in the company winning the casino bid.
There’s also been a fair amount of resistance from residents living near River West.
Ald. Brendan Riley reported that as many as 85% of downtown Chicago residents could be in opposition to the casino’s location. That type of pushback from locals could make the next steps for the project easier said than done.
Despite that, Bally’s is taking the situation one problem at a time. Getting the City Council to approve the casino’s plans on Wednesday would be a huge win for the project.