CHICAGO — A City Council committee has voted in favor of Chicago’s casino proposal, a Bally’s location in River West.
The committee voted 27-3 to approve Chicago’s first casino. A full council vote comes Wednesday.
Alderman Walter Burnett, whose 27th Ward would be home to the Bally’s casino, says the deal is good for the city, though he acknowledges the drawbacks.
“I’m in support of this project,” Burnett said.
WGN’s parent company, Nexstar Media Group, owns the land where the casino would be built.
Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th Ward) says the area needs significant infrastructure improvements.
“It’s extremely congested in that area,” Lopez said. “We’re talking about adding multiple lanes to Halsted Street, possibly even Chicago Avenue and having to expand streets and allow for river access to get to the location.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot chose the Bally’s River West’s $1.7 billion bid over two others, saying it offered the most for the city, including a $40 million upfront payment. Once the permanent site is operational, future revenue is estimated at more than $200 million a year. All money will be used to shore up the public safety pension funds, underfunded by more than $15 billion.
Critics of the plan, including downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward), call into question the projected $200 million in annual city revenue.
“To achieve that $20 million a day handle, that means you need to 6,600 or so people gambling $3,000 each day or 13,000 gamblers doing $1,500 a day each,” Reilly said. “I’m not sure where we’re bringing these gamblers from but most folks I know don’t go to the casino to gamble $1,500 or $3,000.”
Reilly also pushed back against the temporary casino site at the Medinah Temple in River North, likening the fast passage of the casino deal to the $1 billion, 75-year parking meter lease pushed through by former Mayor Richard Daley in 2009.
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The committee’s largest concerns surrounded traffic, crime and public safety in the primarily residential area.