Chicago/ Retail & Industry
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Published on June 21, 2024
Bally's Pushes Forward with $1.7 Billion Chicago Casino Despite Mixed Public Opinion and Mayoral ConcernsSource: Google Street View

Amidst some skepticism and a blend of public opinion, Bally's Casino is forging ahead with its plan to erect a $1.7 billion permanent casino in Chicago's River West neighborhood. A recent report from the Chicago Sun-Times highlighted Mayor Brandon Johnson's hesitance concerning the deadlines and expectations placed on the proposed major gaming and entertainment venue scheduled to open in September 2026. Meanwhile, native Chicagoans have voiced a spectrum of views, ranging from strong support due to increased tourism and job creation to adamant rejections based on potential congestion and a preference for the use of the space for affordable housing or other community needs.

In an effort to secure the confidence of the city's administration and the community, Bally's Casino has indicated its commitment to social equity by setting the scene for potential contracts with minority-owned, women-owned, and fast-tracked veteran-owned businesses required for the construction and operation of the new complex. Reported by WLS, Alvin Hargrove from LifeSafety365 conveyed optimism, saying, "It means a lot to know that there's a roadmap that's actually looking for organizations like ours to be providing the services that we actually provide in our community."

The temporary casino, located in River North, seems to be fulfilling some expectations, at least financially, having reported its highest revenue numbers since its opening in September. This could be viewed as a reassuring sign of the venture's viability. Notwithstanding the mayor's purported reservations, his office has expressed a continued commitment to the project. According to the vice president and general manager of Bally's Chicago, Mark Wong, who mentioned to WLS, "Our commitment to this project has never wavered and we are on track for a September 2026 opening."

Even with opinions divided, and some residents unabashedly opposing the casino's establishment in the River West area, the gears of progress seem to be turning unabated. Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward, where the new casino is slated to rise, has expressed unequivocal backing for the casino's creation, captured during an enthusiastic public appearance where he voiced, "This casino is going to be built, and there's going to be money to be made for everyone. So I will say this, 'I'm betting on Bally's, y 'all,''" as quoted by WLS. With the planned meeting about demolition and property preparation underway after Bally's takes possession of the Tribune building site on July 5, it stands as a concrete indication of forthcoming changes, despite some lingering public debate.