Bally’s hit more headwinds in a quest to bring Chicago the city’s first casino, as a local politician called its planned $2 million annual public safety commitment “woefully insufficient.”
“Whoever came up with those numbers pulled them out of thin air,” Alderman Brendan Reilly, a longtime opponent of casino plans, told the Sun-Times. “Why? Because a public safety assessment was never prepared.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot picked Bally’s earlier this month over two rival projects to build a $1.7 billion casino in the River West neighborhood. While that’s being built on Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, Bally’s will start taking bets at a temporary site, the landmark Medinah Temple on Wabash Avenue.
Rising crime has plagued Chicago for years, so much so that Ken Griffin, the state’s wealthiest man, threatened this week to take his business elsewhere. Citadel, which he founded, has its headquarters in the Loop on South Dearborn Street, about 1.3 miles from the site of a shooting last night that left two dead and seven wounded.
The public safety contribution is among the terms of a host-community agreement that Mayor Lori Lightfoot aims to pass. Residents say crime is one of the biggest concerns for the neighbors opposed to the temporary site, which is already dangerous, according to Reilly.
The payment would cover the salaries of about 24 officers making about $80,000 a year. That’s the standard rate for cops with 18 months of experience. Thousands of officers in the city earn six-figure salaries.
Once the permanent River West site opens, the annual payment will be cut by half and go toward public safety and “community service projects” that are picked by the local alderperson’s office.
Alderman Brian Hopkins, another opponent, said he and Reilly still have a chance to stop the mayor’s plan for the casino.
“The drumbeat of opposition has been growing,” Hopkins told the Sun-Times. “Most aldermen — especially the North Side aldermen — have realized that this is a plank they may not want to walk for this mayor.”
[CST] — Victoria Pruitt