May 25, 2022 - Business

Chicago to vote on city's first-ever casino


A rendering of the Bally's casino in River West. Courtesy of Bally's

The first Chicago casino could be on its way to breaking ground as the City Council plans to vote on Bally's proposal in River West later this morning.

Why it matters: The $200 million in expected annual revenue would go to paying for police and fire pensions, but some opponents say that estimate is overblown.

What they're saying: "This is a promise. That's all it is," Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), who is polling a run for mayor, said during the Monday committee meeting that voted to move the proposal to the full council. "This is actually worse than the parking meter deal. Our hands will be tied six years from now."

  • "We won't have the ability to correct the mistake that we're about to make."

Context: The parking meter deal was notoriously fast-tracked through council in 2008 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and is regarded as one of the worst deals in city history.

By the numbers: Another "no" vote in the Monday committee meeting was Ald. Michele Smith (43rd), who objected due to environmental concerns.

  • Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) also voted no, citing crime and congestion problems.

The other side: Chicago CFO Jennie Huang Bennett says the city loses over $300 million in revenue to neighboring Indiana every year the city doesn't have a casino.

What's next: The council is expected to vote today. If approved, a temporary casino located at Medinah Temple would be up and running in 2023.

  • The permanent River West location would be ready in 2026.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: If you say, "This is actually worse than the parking meter deal," you'd better be right. That's like yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. It's an emotional accusation that certainly must be looked into given how awful the meter deal was.

  • But if hyperbolic, it should disqualify Hopkins from all future public discourse. 🤣

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