Bally’s Tribune Site Offer Selected to Operate Chicago Casino

Bally’s Corp., a fast-growing Rhode Island gambling company that is in the process of acquiring the operations of the Tropicana in Las Vegas, has been chosen as the sole licensee of the future Chicago casino.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that the $1.7 billion casino would be built on the site of the Tribune Publishing Center near the Chicago River in the central part of the city.

Thursday’s announcement caps a year-long RFP process that began with five proposals from four bidders, which was then narrowed down to three finalists in March. Chicago had considered developing a casino for 30 years.

“I am proud to announce that Bally’s Corp. will create a world-class entertainment district in our city that will delight residents and tourists alike,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

“Following extensive analysis and community feedback on all aspects of our three finalists for the Chicago Casino License, the Selection Committee and I have chosen Bally’s to move forward with the development of the first integrated city casino. We are confident that the development of Bally’s Tribune Publishing Center will strengthen the city’s pension funds, create thousands of well-paying jobs and lead to a bright financial future for our city.

The Tribune site was one of two promoted by Bally’s. The winning bid beat plans submitted by Hard Rock International, Rivers 78 Gaming and Rush Street Gaming.

Of the four applicants, Bally’s was the only company that did not have an existing casino in the Chicago area.

Early on, Lightfoot said she hoped a developer with experience building in Las Vegas would submit a bid proposal. But most major Las Vegas casino operators balked at Chicago’s plan because of the high tax rate expected.

Bally’s Tribune site plan includes a 3,000 seat theatre; an Immerse Agency exhibition experience; an extension of the Chicago Riverwalk; a pedestrian bridge; a 500-room hotel tower; an outdoor park; an outdoor concert hall; an amenity terrace with a large spa pool, fitness center and sun terrace; and six restaurants, cafes and a catering hall. The casino will offer space for 3,400 slot machines and 170 table games. Bally’s projected that the development would create over 3,000 construction jobs per year and 3,000 permanent casino jobs.

The casino licensing legislation allows the successful bidder to establish a temporary casino site while construction is underway. Bally’s plans to operate a temporary casino at the Medina Temple, chosen because of its proximity to major transit, retail and hospitality corridors, as well as its ability to help with post-COVID revitalization from the city.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. To follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.