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Bally’s Joins Quartet of Operators Looking to Secure Chicago Casino Monopoly

Casino Entrance SignThe battle for Chicago’s sole casino licence is heating up, with Bally’s now entering the race against three other hopefuls.

The bidding process is set to come to an end in November, and so far only a quintet of brands have come forward with plans for the new-build casino property – that will guarantee them a monopoly for the foreseeable future.

Bally’s join Hard Rock and two Rush Gaming applications – Rivers Chicago and Rivers 78 Gaming – on the list of runners and riders.

The prize? A prime pitch in what is the United States’ third largest metropolitan market, with the green light given to a full resort-style complex that would also include accommodation, hospitality and an in-person sportsbook.

As part of the deal, the winning operator would also be given a chance to set up a gaming hub at the city’s two airports – O’Hare International and Midway International.

The state of Illinois has been kind to its ten licensed casinos thus far, with nearly $1 billion in revenue generated so far in 2021. And the city of Chicago, with its local population of 9.5 million and a healthy tourist market, will surely add even more to the coffers.

The winning bid will be revealed by the end of 2021, and with construction starting next year it is anticipated that the new Chicago casino will be open in 2025.

Bally’s Breezing Into the Windy City

Chicago Skyline at Night

Bally’s have already made their first move into the Illinois market by acquiring the former Jumer’s Casino in Rock Island back in June 2021, paying a handsome $120 million for the privilege.

But they’ll have to dig even deeper into their pockets if their Bally’s Chicago vision is become a reality – a cool $1.6 billion is the figure they have outlined in their proposal to the city mayor.

It’s testament to how big the Chicago market could become that Soo Kim, the firm’s chairman, has said they would make the new build their ‘flagship’ casino over those found on the Las Vegas strip and elsewhere.

“Chicago is a dynamic, world-class city, which is why we are committing to make a $1.6 billion investment in establishing Bally’s Chicago as our flagship, and the only property in its class in the Chicagoland market,” he said.

They have proposed a two-tier development as part of their licence application, with the first phase seeing $1 billion forked out on real estate including a 100-suite luxury hotel, outdoor music venue, some 2,700 slot machines and 95 different games tables.

The second phase would see the extra $600 million invested to create a 400-room hotel with rooftop pool and bar, an indoor entertainment venue and an additional 4,000 games machines and tables.

It is believed that a number of Chicago-based sports stars, celebrities and entrepreneurs have invested a minor stake in the project, which Bally’s claim would focus on recruiting a diverse range of staff to reflect Chicago’s melting pot of ethnicities and communities.