Bally’s seeks $800M to start Chicago casino as deadline looms

Is in advanced talks to bridge funding gap, CFO says

Bally’s Seeks $800M to Start Chicago Casino Complex
Bally’s Soo Kim and Marcus Glover with rendering of River North casino complex (Bally’s, Getty)

Bally’s is gearing up to raze the Chicago Tribune’s former Freedom Center printing plant to make way for the city’s first casino development, but it’s still short on funds needed to get the project off the ground. 

The Rhode Island-based gaming company is seeking $800 million to kickstart construction of the 30-acre, 1 million-square-foot casino complex in River North, Crain’s reported

Bally’s is in advanced talks with a potential partner to bridge the funding gap, CFO Marcus Glover said. The complex’s estimated cost of construction stands at $1.1 billion.

Despite an anticipated opening by the third quarter of 2026, securing a construction loan remains a formidable challenge for Bally’s, mirroring struggles faced by many real estate developers amid rising interest rates and a tight lending environment.

Critics have voiced skepticism about Bally’s financial capacity to undertake such a project, especially as it concurrently operates a temporary casino at the Medinah Temple in River North. As part of its agreement with the city, Bally’s must open the permanent casino within three years of the temporary one, adding pressure to secure funding promptly.

Glover, however, expressed optimism in Bally’s ability to secure financing, citing the accessibility of funding partners within the casino industry. 

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“We’re continuing to have conversations, ironing out details, and we feel confident that we’ll have a financing solution soon,” he told the outlet, restating that the company will honor its agreement with the city to invest a minimum of $1.34 million billion in the casino project. 

The $300 million already secured for the project stems from Oak Street Real Estate Capital, which bought the Freedom Center in 2022 as part of a sale-leaseback arrangement with Bally’s. Glover also confirmed that recent tweaks to the hotel portion of the complex received approval from the city, averting potential setbacks.

Bally’s reported record-breaking figures at its temporary casino in February, with 106,000 visitors — up 20 percent from January — and adjusted gross revenue of $9.9 million, marking a 6.5 percent month-over-month increase. Furthermore, the casino generated over $1 million in local tax revenue last month, up 10 percent from January, the outlet reported.

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration projects that the casino will generate $35 million in tax revenue this year.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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