Bally’s Temporary Casino At Medinah Temple Gets Preliminary Approval

Written By C.J. Pierre on June 21, 2023
Temporary Chicago casino

Bally’s now has the green light to begin the process of opening a temporary casino inside the old Medinah Temple in River North. The Illinois Gaming Board recently voted to approve a “determination of preliminary suitability” for Bally’s plan for a temporary casino.

The company still has a few hurdles to clear. However, the vote allows Bally’s to move forward with the project. The stage is now set for the launch of Chicago’s first casino.

Bally’s hopes to open temporary casino this summer

Even though the location at Medinah Temple would only be short term, being situated in Chicago will give it a leg up over many other Illinois casinos. Bally’s is looking to open the temporary casino by late summer. However, it’s unclear if they’ll be able to clear all of the Illinois Gaming Board requirements by then.

Bally’s must still get a temporary operating permit for the facility. It also must pass several legal requirements, including a two-to-four day test run of the temporary casino before it can open. If the operator can clear those hurdles, the Illinois Gaming Board administrator can issue the temporary operating permit without needing another vote.

During the hearing with the IGB, Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim said they asked the city of Chicago to bet on Bally’s, and they are ready to pay that bet off.

“We are excited to be part of this historic moment to open the first casino in the city of Chicago,” said Kim. “It’s a pretty weighty thing. And this is going to allow us to keep our many commitments to the city and the community that we’ve made. This facility and the permanent [one] will be our flagship, but also I think will be the flagship of Illinois gaming.”

Bally’s will operate the temporary location while a permanent $2 billion casino is being built along the Chicago River. The 134,000-square-foot temporary casino will have 750 slots and 50 table games. It will create more than 500 jobs. The permanent casino in River West expected to create 3,000 jobs once it’s approved and built. The permanent location should be ready to open sometime in 2026.

Other notes from Illinois Gaming Board Meeting

There were a few other takeaways from the IGB meeting. Bally’s Quad Cites had its property license renewed for another four years. After a short presentation from Bally’s representatives, the Board unanimously approved the license extension. The property is located in Rock Island near the Iowa border.

The Board also approved a one-year extension for FHR-Illinois LLC to operate The Temporary by American Place Casino in Waukegan while constructing its permanent casino facility. The extension allows the temporary casino facility to run until Feb. 17, 2026.

Furthermore, the Board also approved a one-year extension for the Hard Rock’s temporary casino location in Rockford. The Rockford Casino – A Hard Rock Opening Act can now remain open until November 10, 2024. Construction of the permanent location is ongoing, with the hopes of opening it up in the summer of 2024.

Illinois has 13 casinos, over 8,300 licensed video gaming establishments and 10 sportsbooks (counting retail and online). Casino gambling, video gaming and sports wagering generated over $1.4 billion in tax revenue for the state and local communities in 2022.

Photo by Matt Boecker / PlayIllinois
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at Play Illinois. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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