Chicago’s City Council is set for a key vote on the $1.7 billion Bally’s casino, days after aldermen asked for more time to review documentation.
The Special Casino Committee aims to vote today and send the project to the full council on Wednesday, Book Club Chicago reported, citing the committee’s chairman, Alderman Tom Tunney. He postponed the Friday vote because several aldermen received revisions to the proposed agreement on Thursday night.
At stake is a community agreement and ordinance for the River West casino, which was picked by Mayor Lori Lightfoot earlier this month over two rival proposals. 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.
The changes to the pact include a requirement that a $40 million upfront payment by Bally’s go straight into the fire and police pension funds, as well as a request that Bally’s submit quarterly reports on minority hiring. Failing to meet those targets would mean Bally’s would be fined and those funds would go directly to workforce development programs.
Opponents of the deal are raising concern about how quickly the project is moving through the approval process and whether financial projections are accurate. Alderman Brendan Reilly says the casino and its temporary site at the Medinah Temple on Mag Mile would cause crime and traffic problems.
“This is being rushed through very quickly relying on one financial analysis,” Reilly said. “We’re being told to take that as gospel,” Reilly said.
Bally’s says the casino will bring in $200 million in annual revenue, something the city said there was no way to guarantee. Should the ordinance and community agreement be approved this week, Bally’s is anticipating opening the temporary location in 2023 and the permanent site in late 2025. Lightfoot had initially asked that the project be completed by the end of May.
[Block Club Chicago] — Miranda Davis