Chicago’s Casino Proposal Is Still Alive As Illinois Gaming Regulators Approve Medinah Temple’s Temporary Gambling Hall

The Illinois Gaming Board and the Chicago Plan Commission regulate gaming in Chicago and are often called the Illinois regulators. They are currently evaluating Bally's Corporation's casino proposal, Bally's Chicago which it submitted in August 2022.

Illinois regulators granted Bally's the greenlight on February 9, 2023, to get licenses for Medinah Temple's gambling hall. Medinah Building LLC got the approval. In the final vote, legislators voted 39-5 in favor of amending Planned Development No. 1426, paving the way for construction of the casino and hotel resort.

Bally's will be in charge of the site's physical structure as Medinah Holdings LLC manages the land where the gaming operator will construct its gambling hall. Still, Bally's will manage and supervise the hall until when a permanent casino will be built near the Chicago River.

The First Vendor Licenses' Approval

Illinois regulators passed the initial vendor license applications for Medinah Temple's owner at 600N. Besides, Wabash Avenue will be Bally's Corporation's temporary casino for two or more years as it builds a permanent gaming property at Halsted Street and Chicago Avenue.

Even so, the regulators didn't rush to make their final decision about Chicago's permanent casino as there were few members. Even so, the city's officials are striving to launch the casino by summer.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated that she wants the casino to start operating and making profits of up to $200 million annually soon. Its revenue will finance Chicago's firefighter and police pensions this summer. But, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) might have to issue a specific timeline.

It has taken many months to vet the five new casinos individually. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a gambling expansion law in 2019 that allowed the new gaming properties. The board's administrator, Marcus Fruchter, stated that the IGB is assessing, investigating, and reviewing Bally's casino application as it did with other applicants.

The board is doing it in an independent, thorough, and efficient way that meets its legal obligations as it maintains the public's confidence. Fruchter added that the agency is still investigating and it is cooperating with Bally's.

Even so, he didn't state whether the IGB will decide on the Chicago casino proposal's preliminary suitability. A public presentation has to occur before the board makes a key decision.

Mayor Lightfoot's Plan Faces Opposition

Mayor Lightfoot chose Bally's Corporation as her representative last spring in the three bidding finalists without liaising with the Chicago City Council committee. It often addresses various gambling issues.

River North Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) is opposing the mayor's plan. It claimed that it would increase traffic and crime near Medinah's temporary casino. Reilly also had questions regarding the safety and financing for the Bally’s casino project, criticizing the Lightfoot administration for rushing the approval process.

Are There Other Plans?

Bally's officials have stated several times that they planned to construct the temporary gaming property at the Chicago Tribune printing plant's site. Mayor Lightfoot successfully urged them to select the Medina Temple venue rather than the original one. Her office later said that they didn't take part in the Medinah site's selection.

Lightfoot's administration backed Bally's safety and traffic plans. It revealed a $40 million loan that it made to Chicago after its City Council approved the plans. Friedman Properties manages the two companies.

Albert Friedman is its CEO and President. He is former House Speaker Michael Madigan's legal client and a developer. Friedman Properties has received about $77,000 in rent payments since 2019 as it owns Mayor Lightfoot's campaign drive's offices.


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