Illinois Casinos In Chicago And Rockford Making Progress

Written By Matt Boecker on September 9, 2022
Two major Illinois casinos — one in Chicago, one in Rockford — took significant steps this week toward opening their doors.

It has been a busy week for future Illinois casinos. Both Bally’s Casino Chicago and Hard Rock Casino Rockford took significant steps forward toward opening their doors.

Bettors in the Land of Lincoln already have an abundance of casino options stretching all across the state of Illinois. But more are in the process of opening soon. And, by 2025, there should be a total of 12 Illinois casinos.

Though, there is still work to do before the new gaming operators open their doors.

Advisory council formed for Bally’s Chicago

Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the formation of a council that aims to gather community input regarding the construction of Bally’s casino, which plans to open a temporary casino in River North before the permanent location opens in River West.

The group is called the Community Advisory Council and it is comprised of neighborhood residents, community groups and casino experts.

Three groups will oversee the council:

  • The Chicago Department of Planning and Development.
  • The mayor’s Office of Community Engagement.
  • Chicago Department of Transportation.

Jennie Huang Bennett, Chicago’s chief financial officer, will also help oversee the council.

Lightfoot had this to say in a press release regarding the Community Advisory Council:

“Since beginning the process to secure a Chicago casino, my administration has remained dedicated to ensuring our residents have every opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns about it. This Community Advisory Council will create a tangible space for this important engagement and allow community stakeholders of all kinds to have a meaningful impact before, during, and after the casino’s construction.”

Lightfoot and the Community Advisory Council said working with the River North and River West communities will be crucial throughout the construction process. Other groups have already dedicated efforts towards minimizing the negative impact it has on the neighborhood. In early August, the River North Residents Association sent a list of 42 concerns about Bally’s current proposal.

Bally’s Chicago still needs licensing

Bally’s isn’t yet in the clear to begin construction on the temporary casino it plans to open at the Medinah Temple in River North.

The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) is currently reviewing Bally’s proposal. Once the IGB approves it, Bally’s must then get the thumbs up from Chicago’s planning and zoning group.

If Bally’s can jump through all the necessary hoops, it plans to open a temporary casino in spring 2023. The permanent casino will be built at the current site of the Chicago Tribune newsroom and printing plant and is expected to open early in 2026.

Hard Rock Casino Rockford gets work permits

Meanwhile, construction on a permanent Hard Rock Rockford casino will begin next week, said a Rockford city official.

A Hard Rock spokesperson provided this statement to 13 WREX:

“The Illinois Gaming Board has given us approval to commence site work. The City of Rockford issued a permit that aligns with that approval only. We continue to work with the Gaming Board on the remainder of the process to seek complete approval that will allow us to construct our permanent facility.”

Hard Rock officials haven’t provided a firm timetable for when the permanent casino will open. The casino’s temporary location, Hard Rock: An Opening Act, is currently open until the permanent site is built.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Matt Boecker

Matt Boecker is a 2020 graduate of Northern Illinois University hailing from Chicago. Boecker specializes in coverage of sports betting and legalization. Former teammates and coworkers describe him as a nice guy who tries hard and loves the game.

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