New $1.7 billion Bally’s Chicago casino at risk, says city official

Bally’s proposed $1.7 billion casino resort in Chicago may not be built. Reports claim that the casino company is struggling to raise funds. Bally’s says it is years away from starting

There is big news coming out of Chicago this week about one of the biggest casino brands in the US and one of the most expensive current casino projects. Chicago City Alderman Brian Hopkins has revealed that he does not believe Bally’s new Chicago casino will be built.

The Bally’s Corporation received permission to build a massive, $1.7 billion mega-casino at Chicago’s Freedom Center. Bally’s is currently operating a smaller casino in Chicago’s Medinah Temple to fund their Freedom Center location. Hopkins believes Bally’s will never outgrow its Medinah Temple location and will end up abandoning its Freedom Center proposal. 

City Alderman takes aim at Bally’s

Chicago City Alderman Brian Hopkins spoke at length about the Bally’s Corporation and their casinos in Chicago. Overall, his comments can be best described as pessimistic. 

“Bally’s has already indicated that they’re not in a hurry to start construction. They’re years away from it,” said Hopkins. These types of comments are nothing new for Hopkins. He was just one of two Chicago aldermen who opposed the new Bally’s casino in Chicago. 

Former administration causing problems for Chicago

Bally’s new Chicago casino and resort was approved by former mayor Lori Lightfoot in May 2022. The very-memeable mayor chose Bally’s over Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming, who were both hoping to open their own casinos in Chicago. 

Lightfoot told the press that Bally’s bid was the best offer out of the three total bids made. Bally’s paid Chicago $40 million upfront after its bid was accepted. The corporation also promised to pay $4 million per year to the city on top of what it already has to pay in taxes. 

Hopkins believes agreeing to this deal is one of the worst actions of Lightfoot’s entire 4-year stint as Chicago mayor. However, it is worth noting that Hopkins is often listed as a potential mayoral candidate, so it makes sense why he might want to distance himself from Lightfoot’s past decisions.

Lack of funding puts Chicago mega casino at risk

The main reason Hopkins and people like him are pessimistic about Bally’s new casino is because the company appears to lack funding for the project. The new Bally’s casino in Chicago is projected to cost over $1.7 billion. 

If built, it would be one of the most expensive and biggest casinos in the US. The new mega casino would have over 3,400 slot machines, more than 150 tables, a sportsbook, and a luxury 500-room hotel accompanied by a 3,000-seat theater and outdoor amphitheater. The casino would also employ over 3,000 people. 

Right now, Bally’s is operating a much smaller casino in Chicago and a popular online casino site. Chicago gave Bally’s permission to run a small casino at Medinah Temple. 

Part of the reason for this is because Bally’s believed this casino would help them raise funds for their Freedom Center site. Unfortunately for Bally’s the funds have not been coming in. The temporary location attracted just over 2,600 patrons per day in October. This is down from 3,300 daily patrons in September. 

According to Hopkins, “They don’t have the money to do it. They were counting on the cash flow from the Medinah Temple site to fund the construction project, and right now, they don’t have it. The signs are on the wall that they’re going to stay [at Medinah Temple] longer.”

Hopkins fears that  Medinah Temple may become a permanent location for Bally’s. The company has until September 9, 2026, to prove him wrong. This is the deadline for Bally’s to build its $1.7 billion casino.

Noah has worked in the iGaming space for more than five years, first as a freelancer and now as part of Duluth Media. He’s experienced in all facets of the industry and has covered plenty of sports.

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