Three finalists for Chicago casino bid

Three proposals remain for the Chicago casino.
Three proposals remain for the Chicago casino.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has narrowed down the five proposals for the city’s first casino to three finalists.

US.- Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has picked three of the five proposals for a Chicago casino as the city’s finalists. The three proposals that progress are Bally’s at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers at The 78 and Hard Rock at the proposed One Central megadevelopment.

It’s been close to three years since state legislators paved the way for a Chicago casino, and Lightfoot still has a few months to make her final decision. The length of the process was said to be due to an aim of more community benefits.

Jennie Huang Bennett, Chicago’s chief financial officer said: “If we had selected one site without having had further engagement within the community then, I think that would have been very difficult for us to hold to the values of transparency and community engagement that we do with every major development.”

The Lightfoot administration estimates that a new casino will be in operation by 2025 and generate around $200m a year. The money would shore up underfunded police and fire pensions and create 2,000 to 3,000 jobs. 

The five initial proposals were:

  • Bally´s Proposal 1: at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center. Valued at $1.8bn, a 3,600-gaming positions casino, a 500-room high-rise hotel, 70,000 square-foot entertainment venue.
  • Hard Rock Chicago: a $1.7bn property at ONE Central with up to 500 rooms, eight restaurants, six bars and lounges, a 3,500-seat Hard Rock Live, Rock Spa, Hard Rock Music and Entertainment Experience, 3,400 slots, and 166 table games.
  • Rivers 78 Gaming LLC: in the eight-acre riverfront entertainment district at the northern end of the mixed-use 78 neighbourhood. A $2bn property with 300 rooms; eight restaurants, five bars, and lounges; riverfront plaza; observation tower with indoor-outdoor viewing space; Harbor Hall multipurpose riverfront venue for live entertainment, culture-arts and community programs with rooftop space; 2,600 slots and 190 table games.
  • Bally´s Proposal 2: at McCormick Plack Truck Marshaling. A $1.6bn site with 500 rooms, six restaurants, three bars and lounges; a 3,000-seat, 70,000 square-foot entertainment venue; 20,000 square feet of exhibition space; outdoor-rooftop green space including bars, lounges, and pools; 3,400 slots and 173 table games.
  • Rivers Chicago at McCormick LLC: a $1.3bn property at Lakeside Center at McCormick Place. A 2,900-room hotel with the ability to add 250 or additional rooms; 12 restaurants, four bars, and lounges in addition to full bars at seven restaurants, a 4,200-seat theatre, convention centre, 2,600 slots, and 190 table games.

The proposals that were dismissed were the McCormick Place bids. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns the convention center complex, said it was not interested in transforming any of its facilities into a casino.

Bally’s says it would open a temporary casino by the second quarter of 2023, with the permanent casino opening in the first quarter of 2026, while Rivers would open a temporary casino in the second quarter of 2024 and the permanent casino in the fourth quarter of 2025.

Hard Rock would open a temporary casino in the second quarter of 2023, and would plan to open the permanent casino by the third quarter of 2025.

The Chicago casino is expected to be the largest in Illinois. It would also carry with it the highest casino tax rate in the state at about 40 per cent of adjusted gross revenue.

See also: Three companies present five Chicago casino bids to the public

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