Chicago Mayor selects Bally’s Corporation as recipient of sole casino license

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot has selected Bally’s Corporation to be the recipient of its sole casino license and the developer to create a world-class casino-resort and entertainment experience in Chicago on the site of the Tribune Publishing Centre.

Chicago Mayor, Lori E. Lightfoot, said: “I am proud to announce that Bally’s Corporation will create a world-class entertainment district in our city that will delight residents and tourists alike.”

“Following significant analyses and community input on all aspects of our three finalists for Chicago’s casino license, the selection committee and I have chosen Bally’s to move forward in the development of the City’s first integrated casino resort. We are confident that Bally’s Tribune Publishing Centre 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.”

The proposal from Bally’s entails a $1.7 billion casino project and hotel on a portion of the current industrial Tribune Publishing Centre. This includes a 3,000-seat theatre; an Immerse Agency exhibition experience; an extension of the Riverwalk; pedestrian bridge; a 500-room hotel tower; an outdoor park; an outdoor music venue; an amenity terrace featuring a large pool spa, fitness centre and sun deck; and six restaurants, cafes and a food hall. The casino will offer space for 3,400 slots and 170 table games. Bally’s Corporation projected the development will add more than 3,000 construction jobs annually and 3,000 permanent casino jobs.

Soo Kim, Chairman of Bally’s Corporation Board of Directors, said: “We would like to thank Mayor Lightfoot and her office for conducting a tough, but fair, RFP process, and selecting Bally’s Chicago as the final bidder for the City’s casino.”

“Chicago is a unique and vibrant city, deserving of world-class gaming and entertainment destination that is of, by, and for the people by driving the local economy, supporting local labour, creating multigenerational wealth for minority investors, and showcasing the best of what the City has to offer. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with Mayor Lightfoot, and all of our valued community partners on this exciting endeavour.”

The City selected Bally’s Corporation Tribune proposal as it met or exceeded core goals outlined by the casino selection committee, including:

  • Economic and Financial Benefits to the City: Bally’s offered the strongest overall financial offer to the City. Bally’s provided a $40 million upfront payment at the time of the signing of the Host Community Agreement along with $4 million annually per year thereafter. Bally’s has also provided the highest minimum capital commitment to the project, and is the only submitting operator that did not have a competing casino in the Chicagoland region.
  • Job Creation: Bally’s has completed an agreement with organized labour, which the City deems necessary for this process to move forward. Bally’s will commit to 60% minority hiring and will create a jobs program specifically targeting neighbourhoods with the highest levels of unemployment and lowest income. The jobs program also will include clear career pathways for upward mobility.
  • Equity: Bally’s has provided a unique proposal concerning equity through a crowdfunding initiative, which includes the ability for small investors to leverage up their investment with non-recourse debt. The casino also will create opportunities for small, local restaurants and businesses to have business opportunities in the casino.
  • Design, Planning, Amenities, and Transportation: The casino is proposed on a site that sits within an important land-use transition zone, with several large-scale existing industrial and commercial uses nearby that will continue to provide critical services to the City.
  • Site: Bally’s will be purchasing the entire Tribune site and is, therefore, flexible in how the other parcels within this planned development can be redeveloped; the company has committed to take input from the community for these pieces.
  • Temporary Casino: Bally’s anticipates operating a temporary casino at the Medinah Temple. This was chosen due to its proximity to major transit and retail/hospitality corridors, as well as its ability to assist in the City’s post-Covid revitalization.

Now that Bally’s Corporation has been selected, a comprehensive host community agreement memorialising the agreed upon terms will be negotiated. The host community agreement will then be evaluated by an Aldermanic special committee. The committee will consist of all the Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen of City Council Committees as well as President Pro Tempore Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd Ward. The Special Committee will be chaired by Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th Ward, and vice-chaired by Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward. All of the City Council will be involved in the process for the final recommendation. The formal development process will begin following approval from the City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board.

In addition to creating thousands of jobs, the casino will generate approximately $400 million a year in gaming and other revenues for the City and the State of Illinois. The City believes that the casino project will meaningfully support Chicago’s tourism industry, finances, job growth, and economic development in addition to enhancing property values in the surrounding area.