The City of Chicago has revealed five bids for the city’s first casino property from four different developers at various locations across the city. The bids represent the culmination of a multi-year process beginning in 2019 when gambling, including sports betting, was legalized within city limits. When bidding opened in April, it was met with mixed reviews from developers, however after a two-month extension of the deadline four applicants turned in their plans.
Requirements for the casino included, but weren’t limited to, creating an entertainment and gaming destination that enhances the urban fabric, host a hotel with as many as 500 rooms, dining, shopping, and entertainment venues. Other requirements include hiring locally in hopes of building wealth in disadvantaged communities, and sourcing construction goods from such areas as well.
The largest bidder is the Bally’s Corporation out of Rhode Island which operates locations across the country and hopes to make Chicago its flagship location. Bally’s is placing two bids for two different locations, this includes one on the old Chicago Tribune printing plant and one at the McCormick Place truck yard. The Bally’s bid is around $1.6 billion and would be built in two phases with the end goal of bringing 4,000 gambling positions including outposts at both O’Hare and Midway airports.
The remaining three bids have released far less information but do include some of the same sites. Hard Rock Chicago, LLC has placed a bid for a single site that would be managed by Hard Rock International. It is worth noting this wouldn’t be Hard Rock’s first foray into the area, for many years they operated a hotel in the downtown Carbon and Carbide building, which is now The Pendry. As for gambling, Hard Rock has recently opened a casino in Gary, Indiana, and is working on another location in nearby Rockford, it also operates the Guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
The remaining two bids come from Rivers Chicago at McCormick LLC and Rivers 78 Gaming LLC, both of which would be operated by Rush Street Gaming. Led by gaming expert Neil Bluhm, their names are indicative of their proposed locations, one would be built in partnership with Related Midwest at the massive 78 mega-project. The second proposal would take over an undisclosed part of McCormick place hoping to be close to the lakefront and convention traffic.
The city will now begin reviewing the proposals more in-depth and suggest a winner to the mayor who will then take it to the City Council to vote. Although no concrete timeline has been revealed, the winning bid would be able to open a temporary facility while construction on the final complex progresses. The city hopes to open the doors of the finished facility by 2025 and use the tax revenue towards police and fire pensions funds.