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Parking is an emerging issue among Chicago casino critics

CHICAGO — Chicagoans got another chance to discuss a proposed casino Tuesday night at the first of two community engagement meetings.

As the city plans to open a Bally’s casino in River West, the divide between those in favor and those against remains.

“I don’t know how Bally’s and the city of Chicago, even with outside support [Illinois State Police], can keep the neighbors in that area safe,” said Mark Fastabend, who lives near the casino site. “People will often leave the casino late at night, often intoxicated, and some of those people will know, at least some, that they’re leaving with a lot of money, and that creates an opportunity for crime.”

At a community meeting Tuesday at the Voco Hotel downtown, casino officials and architects outlined how the temporary casino site at Old Medina Temple at Ohio and Wabash will be preserved (a permanent casino site near Chicago and Halsted is due sometime in 2026). It also discussed how a community advisory committee would be created to focus on issues such as diversity and inclusion, adding that $4 million would be paid annually to the city once the casino is up and running — half to the general fund and another $2 million to the program public benefits.

However, many attendees expressed concern about a transportation-related occurrence: parking. In response, officials say parking won’t be a problem, citing a traffic study that thousands of available spaces are available near Medina.

But Fastabend remains focused on safety, seeking commitment from Bally’s representatives.

“Will they stop production of the permanent casino site until they find a permanent solution?” he asked. “Bali clearly said no, which tells me they value profits and their corporations over the lives and safety of the people who will be their future neighbors.”


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