Mayor Lori Lightfoot has picked a gambling complex located at River West for a casino license, something that the region has been seeking for a long time. The move is in a bid to accelerate the financial health of Chicago and keep the regional money within the state.
Bally’s hopes to add it as a flagship location for its chain that already comprises 14 casinos in 10 states. An amount of $1.74 billion has been advanced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot for casino, hotel, and entertainment development. The complex is planned to have a 3,000-seat theater, an exhibition hall, an outdoor music venue, a 500-room hotel, six restaurants, and a gambling space that is enough to house 170 Table games & 3,400 Slot games.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a victory lap, stating that former mayors tried to get a online casino in the region for decades, but they got it done. She quoted how Mayor Richard M. Daley attempted several times to get a Chicago casino.
Earlier attempts failed as there was a possibility that the state legislature had no appetite to help the city, words strongly echoed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
She claimed that having a casino in the region signals that the state’s economy is on the verge of recovering after suffering heavily due to the Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest.
The proposal reportedly succeeded for reasons that include:-
- Reaching a labor peace agreement with the Chicago Federal of Labor; and,
- Absence of a competing casino in the Chicago region.
Lightfoot talked to the press to express her confidence in Bally’s Tribune Publishing Center Development, saying that it would shore up the city’s pension funds, create thousands of jobs, and lead the city to a better financial future.
Another side to this story poses a challenge to all the developments that Lightfoot has presented in her statement. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and developers are yet to convince a majority of aldermen, the Illinois Gaming Board, and wary neighbors.
A possibility exists that aldermen could oppose the idea due to their pertaining distaste for gambling or concerns related to a probable rise in traffic. Lightfoot is likely to argue that the tax collection would soar in the future to satisfy their dislike for constantly increasing property tax.
These challenges have been acknowledged by Soo Kim, the Chairman of Bally’s. Soo Kim stated that the company understood the promises that the casino allowed Chicago to keep, accepting to bear all the responsibilities that lie in the future. Soo Kim expressed his excitement and said that he understood that this was only the first step & they now had to make the case before the City Council.
Lightfoot had shortlisted three finalists in March. These were:-
- Bally’s at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center
- Hard Rock at One Central Development on the Near South Side
- Rivers in the South Loop at The 78
Chicago casinos have the potential to bring the city out of a troubled financial situation. Additionally, it will set a path for Lightfoot to a straight political victory in her reelection campaign.
Lightfoot has a successful history where she revised the tax structure to make a casino more attractive for potential bidders. Many heavy hitters hesitated to submit their bids, but it ended with receiving submissions from three firms that the city will now consider.