Chicago May Choose a Casino License Holder by Year’s End

Officials in Chicago, Illinois have been anxiously awaiting the chance to add a casino to its tourism options. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has just provided information this week, reporting that the sole casino license up for grabs could have an operator attached to it by this year. The city will start to accept proposals early next month and the gaming board will decide the winner after talking with local officials.

Bring on the Proposals

The city is excited to get started on the search for a casino operator. Over the next few weeks, details will be released on what proposals should consist of and when they should be turned in. Mayor Lightfoot is hoping that the process will move quickly so that the casino can open by 2025 or sooner.

The process of bringing a casino to Chicago has been ongoing. The expansion to do so was first approved in 2019. However, conditions put in place within the legislative process have slowed the process down considerably.

Last year, lawmakers went back and changed the requirements. The take rate decreased from 72% to 40%. Additional terms were changed as well including the licensing fee. The amount can now be paid in a six year time frame instead of the original two years.

When the legislation was first passed, Mayor Lightfoot said that she wanted to see sites proposed for the casino that would have a big impact on the development of the neighborhood. Operators were afraid this would limit the business of the venue. She expects operators to speak with her about locations and plans on having an open mind when it comes to choosing a spot.

The casino operator can add up to 4,000 gaming positions within the facility. Operators are asking the city to ensure they will not allow other venues to add gaming machines such as bars. Slot machines are already an option in the state and operators do not want any further competition.

Long Time Coming

Mayor Lightfoot has been waiting since she took office to see a casino added to the Chicago skyline. She feels that such a venue will be an anchoring spot for a larger complex featuring entertainment options. The destination would be popular among residents as well as travelers. The operator selected for the project will be able to create a resort that includes a hotel tower, spa and restaurants.

The effort to bring a casino to Chicago is decades old. With casino gaming, it would provide a new source of revenue, one that would be ongoing. The venue’s earnings could be used to increase pensions for firefighters and policemen. The pension liability across four retirement plans currently is around $31 billion.

With this venture, the operator has the option to use a temporary space while the permanent structure is constructed. A temporary structure could be used for as many as 36 months. This would allow revenues to start rolling in long before the permanent structure is open.

Last year, the city asked companies to take part in a request for information. This resulted in MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Rush Street Gaming, and Hard Rock International taking part. It could be that any one of these companies might be chosen for the new project once official proposals are released.

Rebecca Kont
Rebecca Kont

Rebecca lives in Las Vegas and after completing her degree at Reynolds Journalism school joined the USGS team to pursue her journalism dreams.