River North Locals Attempt To Work With Bally’s On The Illinois Casino Proposal

Written By Matt Boecker on August 5, 2022
River North Bally's Illinois casino proposal challenged by locals

Just a few months ago, the Chicago casino committee and Mayor Lori Lightfoot were down to three casino options for the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).

As a reminder, those three options were:

  • Rivers 78 near Chinatown
  • Hard Rock One Central in the South Loop
  • Bally’s in River North

Some residents near all three possible casino locations weren’t happy with the idea of a neighborhood casino.

The reason they cited:

  1. diminished property value
  2. increased traffic and
  3. increased crime among the concerns.

But in May, the Chicago casino committee made Bally’s the winning contender to become the newest potential Illinois casino. But the uneasy feelings only amplified for River North residents.

River North residents taking a new approach with Bally’s casino

As of now, locals have stopped fighting the idea that Bally’s is likely coming to the area. But they’re trying to lobby for construction changes to avoid harmful impacts on the community.

The group asked Bally’s to replace an outdoor music venue with a public park. The change could spare the neighborhood from hearing loud music on the riverfront.

Brian Israel, president of the River North Residents Association (RNRA), said “a lot of people obviously like to go to concerts. I like to go to concerts but not across the street from my house.”

Bally’s officials responded to the RNRA, saying:

“Bally’s originally assumed that the outdoor performance venue would be a welcome amenity for the neighborhood, but now understands the significant concerns of nearby residents about associated noise, light, and traffic disruption near their homes. (We) will consider this request, pending input from other groups.”

But the requests from the group don’t stop there. The RNRA sent Bally’s a list of 42 concerns.

Key proposal changes to the Bally’s Illinois casino from the RNRA:

  • Eliminate the proposed bridge to Ward Park
  • Ensure all Bally’s vehicles (maintenance, shuttles, security, hospitality, etc.) are 100% green and use renewable fuels
  • Consider exit ramps connecting the casino to the Ohio-Ontario feeder
  • Conduct security patrols in a four-block radius around the permanent and temporary Chicago casino
  • Dedicate 2% of yearly revenue to problem gambling treatment programs

The RNRA asked for multiple street changes and exit ramps. But Bally’s cited high costs and a low likelihood of approval from the Illinois DOT.

However, Bally’s did agree to work with the Chicago Police Dept. They hope to add more patrols in and around the temporary and permanent casinos.

Bally’s still needs IGB approval before they break ground on the project. Casino officials will meet with local groups before sending in the final proposal.

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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