CHICAGO — When it comes to Chicagoans and their opinion on a casino in the city’s River West development, emotions and unease remain.
Thursday night, city and Bally’s representatives answered with a lot of promises about the future of the casino and the commitment the company will bring.
At the town hall meeting at the UIC Forum, each person was given 90 seconds to ask a question or make a statement.
There were questions about Bally’s plans to address predatory gambling, especially in minority communities.
Residents were very concerned about safety and the impact this casino would bring to the residential neighborhood.
Representatives from Bally’s reiterated their plans for the entertainment complex, including a theater, open space, extended Riverwalk, restaurants, and a museum.
For other organizations in Chicago, people were concerned about job equity and inclusion:
“The sin tax doesn’t trickle to our community, yet you’re standing up here telling us that the opportunities are going to trickle down to our community? How are we to believe that? When this city hasn’t seen or proved anything to our community?” — Tyrone F. Muhammad, ExCons for Community and Social Change.
“I’m tired of broken promises, we for jobs, contracts set aside, I’m asking what type of benefits might the community have from the philanthropic activities, your vendor activities?” — Willie JR Fleming, Chicago Anti Eviction Campaign.
“I’m here in person to tell you that we’re going to keep our promises. We’ve shaped our proposal very intentionally to make sure we leave a good impact.” — Soo Kim, Bally’s.
The city said this is still an ongoing, multi-step process. The plans will need to pass a city council vote, zoning review, community engagement, and additional hearings before it goes to the Illinois Gaming Board.