May 6, 2022 - Business

Lightfoot rolls the dice on Bally's

Rendering of casino
Renderings of the proposed River West casino. Courtesy of Bally's

It's official: Mayor Lori Lightfoot has chosen the Bally's River West site for Chicago's long-awaited casino.

Why it matters: The city's first casino will generate revenue to offset the costs of fire and police pensions.

What they're saying: "We are confident that Bally's Tribune Publishing Center development will shore up the city's pension funds, create thousands of good-paying jobs, and lead to a bright financial future for our city," Lightfoot said in a press release.

Yes, but: Many River North and West Town residents oppose the location, mostly because of traffic concerns. Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) already said he didn't want it in his ward.

  • Yesterday, though, he flipped, saying it would be "irresponsible" to not support the casino because without it, taxes would need to be raised.

The other side: "The game is not over yet," River North Residents Association president Brian Israel told the Tribune. "Chicago is a great American city. We think it can do better than this."

The intrigue: City Council will have to approve the location, and this council has not been the rubber stamp for mayoral projects it was in the past.

  • For instance, the recent gas/transportation card giveaway barely passed, with a 26–23 vote.

Details: Bally's proposal beat out two other finalists'. If approved, it will be built on the site of the Tribune Publishing plant along the north branch of the Chicago River.

  • The entire project is expected to cost $1.74 billion and create 3,000 permanent jobs and 3,000 annual construction jobs.
  • It will have an outdoor music venue and a 500-room hotel.

What's next: City Council will take up the casino vote soon.

  • If approved, Bally's plans to build a temporary casino in 2023, with the completed project expected in late 2025.
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