CHICAGO (CBS) – To make this a reality, the proposed Chicago casino requires the approval of the city council.
On Monday, the city council’s special committee on casinos asked questions ranging from crime to traffic and ethics to potential Bally’s operator and Mayor Laurie Lightfoot’s team, which selected by Bally’s last week.
As Chris Ty of CBS 2 reported, the city has not conducted a new security study to determine how casinos will affect crime – hoping to raise casinos and bring in revenue quickly. Some on the city council believe it’s too fast for something so big.
“I have to be honest with all of you – I thought it would be the last thing to be chosen, but everything works in a mysterious way,” – Old. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said at a meeting at Zoom.
And everything works – fast.
The city wants next year to have a temporary casino at the historic Medinah Temple at 600 N. Wabash Ave. on River North so they can quickly spend $ 40 million on Belly in advance dollars.
Then, no later than 2026, a permanent casino should be built at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center, near Chicago Avenue and Halstead Street in River West.
Proceeds from the casino are money that the city needs to pay for the pensions of police and firefighters.
But Old. Brendan Reilly (42) says things are happening too fast – and he has questions about the company the city chose, which eventually led to the mayor backing Bally’s.
“Union Gaming has a contract to provide us with predictions; financial analysis, ”Reilly asked officials. – Who checked the homework?
“Ultimately, Union Gaming Analytics – which gives us our revenue forecasts – has worked with all three bidders in the past,” said city chief financial officer Jenny Bennett. “It’s a very small niche market.”
Ald. Michelle Smith (43) also expressed reservations about how fast things are going.
“What are the deadlines here and why the rush with this very significant project?” Smith asked Bennett.
“The sooner we achieve this, the sooner we get revenue,” Bennett replied.
There are also questions, in particular, about how the temple in Medina was chosen as a place for a temporary casino. The former auditorium and circus area was built by the fraternal organization Shriners in 1912, and from 2003 to 2020 it housed the Bloomingdales furniture store. It has since been vacant, and the city says filling in the blanks is a priority.
“It’s hard to be a retailer in cities because of so many trends and pandemics,” said Chicago Deputy Mayor Samir Maekar. “The vacancy generates a vacancy, and we must activate the temple in Medina.”
As a neighbor of a property concern, Bally’s on Monday announced a partnership with The Second City for entertainment and with West Loop restaurants The Publican and Avec for lunches as part of the $ 1.7 billion project.
Bally’s also plans to implement 30 traffic improvement projects. These include the addition of new traffic lights for entry roads east of Halstead Street south of Chicago Avenue and south of Chicago Avenue east of Halstead Street. New signals are also planned for the entrance roads that run north of Grand Avenue east of Halstead Street.
It is also planned to upgrade the traffic lights directly on Halstead Street and Chicago Avenue, as well as on Holstead and Erie Streets and on Milwaukee Avenue, Ogden Avenue and Chicago Avenue in the west.
It is also planned to introduce new pedestrian signals on Chicago Avenue and Halstead Street; Grand Avenue on Halstead Street, Desplanes Street and Jefferson Street; and Halstead and Higher Streets.
The casino operator is also planning crowdfunding where Chicago residents can purchase equity ownership of the facility.
“We express our full faith and respect for our corporation. People can walk by and say, “Hey, I have a piece of this” with a face value of $ 250, ”Bally’s Chairman Suhon Kim said at a meeting at Zoom. “We’re turning it into a security, so it’s going to be a registered SEC security.”
Some city council members said they expect to be ready to vote on the casino plan in the next two weeks. But Reilly stressed once again that, in his opinion, the small parts of the billion-dollar project are moving too fast.
“The last time we were given less than two weeks to check and approve the deal, it exploded in our face – and it was called a parking meter deal,” he said.
The parking meter agreement took place in December 2008 under the direction of Mayor Richard M. Daly. The city leased its parking meters to Chicago Parking Meters LLC as part of a 75-year deal for about $ 1.16 billion, which has been controversial ever since.
The city says the reason they are so insistent on this is that after City Hall, the state gambling board still needs to be weighed – and they would like to be able to use these Belly dollars for next budget year.