Chicago receives five casino bids including Bally’s, Hard Rock and Rush Street


ive bids have been issued in response to the City of Chicago’s request for proposals (RFP) for its first integrated casino-resort, the Mayor’s Press Office announced last Friday. The selected proposal will be granted the city’s sole casino owner’s license.

The proposals are the following:

  • Bally’s Corporation submitted two proposals for two different sites. Its casino operations would be self-managed.
  • HR Chicago, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site. Its casino operations would be managed by an affiliate, Hard Rock International.
  • Rivers Chicago at McCormick, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site. Its casino operations would be managed by Rush Street Gaming.
  • Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site. Its casino operations would be managed by Rush Street Gaming.

All the projects proposed were submitted by Friday’s deadline, and reportedly are in or near downtown. More information on the proposal summaries will be shared in the following weeks, according to the Mayor’s office. The city expects the permanent casino will be open by 2025, with tax revenue from the casino being dedicated to the city’s underfunded police and fire pension funds.

“We are thrilled to have received five high-caliber proposals,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The submission of bid responses represents a major step toward the thoughtful development of a casino-resort that uplifts our businesses, employs and empowers our residents and encourages tourism.”

The Chicago casino represents an initiative three decades in the making, explains the press release announcing the bidders. It offers the winning company the opportunity to own and operate a casino-resort in the country’s third-largest metropolitan market; a city with 9.5 million residents, which welcomed 60 million domestic and 1.5 million international visitors in 2019.

The holder of Chicago’s license has the opportunity to operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months (subject to a 12-month extension) and, thereafter, a permanent casino located in the city. Applicants selected through the RFP process then must apply to the state for the owner’s license and meet the state’s licensing requirements. 

Among the requirements, bidders must include 26% minority business enterprise (MBE) participation, 6% women business enterprise (WBE) participation and Chicago-based businesses in the design and construction of the project.

A 50% of total work hours must correspond to city residents and 7.5% of total work hours by residents of the area surrounding the venue in the construction of the project. Hirings should encourage building wealth in disadvantaged communities, as well as achieving a diverse workforce.

The next step in the casino race is for a review committee made up of a cross-section of City departments to determine the recommended winning bidder. This recommendation will be made to Mayor Lightfoot, who will ultimately make the determination with City Council approval.

Following the initial announcement of the five proposals, Bally’s issued a statement on its bid for a casino license. The proposal is a $1.6 billion venue, called Bally’s Chicago, a casino, hotel and entertainment facility.

“This property will be built, owned, and operated by Chicagoans, with a focus on minority and women investors, contractors, suppliers, consultants, and employees,” said Soo Kim, Bally’s Chairman. “It will generate tax revenue, create good-paying jobs, and attract international, national, and local visitors for generations to come.”

The company has proposed two potential sites: The Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, located on the corner of Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, and the McCormick Place Truck Marshaling Yard, locations Bally’s describes as “economic sleeping giants.”

To be built in two phases, the $1.0 billion first phase will feature 2,700 slot machines and 95 table games, while leaving room for expansion of gaming space or other amenities; a 100-all suite luxury hotel; an outdoor music venue for performances seating 500 to 1,000, as well as green space for relaxation and recreation; dining options; and pop-up entertainment by local artists.

Bally’s Chicago will then expand with an additional $600 million investment to add up to 4,000 total gaming positions; a fully-built 400-room hotel tower with a rooftop pool and bar; an amenity terrace featuring a larger pool, spa, fitness center, and sun deck; a 3,000-seat flexible indoor entertainment venue that can accommodate large performances, smaller meetings, and private events; a 20,000-square-foot exhibition space; and an expanded food and beverage program.

Bally’s Corporation’s temporary facility would operate adjacent to the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center site, as the permanent one is being developed. 


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