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Chicago Planning Committee Gives the Green Light to Bally’s Casino Project

The beginning of the week saw the Chicago planning agency approve zoning for the proposed Bally’s casino situated at Halsted Street and Chicago Avenue, which was a move forward in the journey of the project worth $1.7 billion through the necessary government approvals.

In this case, the approval was given by the competent authorities in spite of a last-minute objection from a major alderperson.

Alderman Walter Burnett Jr., whose 27th Ward is set to host the Bally’s casino project, severely criticized the gambling operator for not disclosing the workforce development plan that it had reached with the city’s labor unions. He shared his concern that the labor union may not provide enough jobs for black residents of the area. The alderman shared that he would not support the zoning until he sees the workforce development plan for the project.

After facing Mr. Burnett’s criticism, a Bally’s executive made a promise to table the workforce development plan by December 13th when the project is set to officially reach the zoning committee of the City Council.

The Chicago Plan Commission publicly gave the green light to Bally’s casino proposal which has been supported by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Apart from a casino with 4,000 gaming positions, the project includes a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat theater, a riverwalk and an event center. The Commission usually advises the City Council when it comes to large developments within city borders. Its members include alderpersons, mayoral appointees, and department heads.

Planned Bally’s Casino Needs Final Approval Illinois Gaming Board to Start Operation

The recommendation of the Chicago Plan Commission’s panel, which was officially approved with 12 to 1 votes, is not set to be tabled to the council for final review, which could be revealed by December 14th. As a member of the commission, Mr. Burnett recused himself from the vote, and the only “NO” vote came from the Commission’s chair, architect Laura Flores.

If Bally’s casino project is officially approved by alderpersons, the plan would also be given the authority to start the casino construction at the chosen location, but the gambling operator would still need the approval of the local regulatory body – the Illinois Gaming Board – in order to operate its services in Chicago.

If the state’s gambling watchdog gives the necessary approval, Bally’s hopes to be able to open a temporary casino at the Medinah temple location next year. The permanent casino location is expected to be ready to start operation in 2026.

As CasinoGamesPro previously reported, the Chicago Tribune printing plant site has been chosen as the location to host the permanent Bally’s casino. The company has suggested that the plant might temporarily continue to operate as such on a part of the property but the Chicago Tribune has not unveiled any relocation plans so far.

The site, which is roughly 30 acres big, is being acquired by Bally’s, which in its turn is selling it to Oak Street Real Estate Capital and leasing back the property. The 99-year leaseback agreement would allow Bally’s to raise up to $500 million that could be used for covering some of the site’s development costs.

According to some critics of the project, the arrangement should be closely examined by the Illinois Gaming Board because it allegedly boosts the fiscal complexity of the casino project. Bally’s, however, claims that the deal does exactly the opposite because the gambling operator would have enough liquidity on hand to fund its Chicago casino without being forced to access the capital markets.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.