Illinois gambling regulator gave the green light to the initial steps allowing the opening of a long-negotiated casino in Chicago, as they voted in favor of licenses for Medinah Temple. The building is set to host a temporary gambling hall which Bally’s has been hoping to become operational by June 2022.
However, for the time being, it remains uncertain whether the ambitious plan of Bally’s could be actually met, as the Illinois Gaming Board still has to investigate and give its approval to all parties that have any involvement in the casino project. Previously, Bally’s has revealed a project under which a permanent casino has to be open on the Freedom Center printing plant’s site by 2026.
The state’s gambling regulatory body voted 3 to 0 in favor of the supplier licenses for two corporate entities owned and operated by the real estate magnate Albert Friedman. They are set to serve as Bally’s landlord at the Shriner’s amphitheater.
The site that is to house the temporary casino of the brand was not the initial choice of Bally’s, not to mention that it has caused some controversy. The project’s opponents have criticized Friedman for a $6,000 contribution made to the political campaign of Mayor Lori Lightfoot only two months before it was revealed that Bally’s had plans to use the Medinah Temple building.
The contribution that was made to Mayor Lightfoot’s campaign was disclosed to the Illinois Gaming Board at the time when the company applied for the Medinah Temple license. Representatives of the Mayor’s Office have rejected any involvement of Ms. Lightfoot in the selection of the site for the temporary casino. When asked about whether the donation was taken into account during the license applications’ evaluation process, the spokesman of the Illinois Gaming Board, Joe Miller, said that the agency does not make commentary on applicants’ investigations.
It Could Take Years to Bally’s to Start Permanent Casino Operation in Chicago
As mentioned above, the latest vote of the Illinois Gaming Commission was the initial public step in a lengthy process that could take months, if not years, to complete.
Since Governor J.B. Pritzker gave his approval to a proposed measure seeking to expand gambling in the state in 2019, only Hard Rock Casino Rockford has started operating. The casino, which is the only one of six newly-authorized casino venues in the state started welcoming visitors at a temporary site in November 2021, almost two years after it submitted its license application to gambling regulatory bodies.
Bally’s filed its Chicago casino application with the state’s gambling regulatory body in August last year, so it could be years before the company opens its new establishment in the city.
The lengthy investigation process that is currently underway at the Illinois Gaming Board has been detailed at the February 9th meeting, with Marcus Fruchter, the Administrator of the Board, refusing to say when the body will hold a hearing on Bally’s preliminary suitability assessment. Getting an evaluation of whether a company is fit to hold a casino operating license is required by law before any casino-related work is allowed to start at the chosen site.