Bally’s Chicago Receives Casino License, Temporary Operation Deadline Approaches


Bally’s Receives Full License for Sports Betting Operations in Chicago

Posted on: October 31, 2023, 12:56h. 

Last updated on: October 31, 2023, 12:57h.

The Illinois Gaming Board has unanimously granted Bally’s a full license to operate sports betting in the state, specifically in Chicago. This approval allows Bally’s to offer a comprehensive sports betting experience at the upcoming mega development in the River West area.

Medinah Temple
The Medinah Temple, which will be home to Bally’s temporary Chicago casino. The location netted $6.7 million and 80,000 visitors in its first few weeks. (Image: Friedman Properties)

This license approval marks the beginning of the countdown to the opening of the $1.7 billion permanent casino. Bally’s must have the new casino operational by September 2026, which is the three-year time limit set for operating their temporary casino at the historic Medinah Temple.

Bally’s initially opened the temporary location at Medinah Temple in September under a temporary license. According to Illinois state law, casino operators are given two years to run a temporary site, with the option for a 12-month extension during the construction of a permanent site.

Notably, Bally’s permanent casino in River West will be the first urban casino in the area. The entertainment complex will feature an extensive range of offerings, including a casino floor with 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games. Additionally, there are plans to include a state-of-the-art 3,000-seat theater and a 500-key hotel tower.

This ambitious $1.7 billion plan played a significant role in winning the approval of former Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who selected Bally’s over three other bidders for the casino project last year.

“We’re all very confident that we’ll meet the timeline,” said Bally’s Chicago general manager Mark Wong addressed to the gaming board members. “However, it is a huge project.”

Bally’s has until September 9, 2026 to complete the construction of the 505,000 square foot casino complex.

Bally’s Temporary Location Achieves Early Success

While construction on the new location is expected to commence in July 2024, the temporary location has already gained significant attention.

The Medinah Temple location has generated $6.7 million in revenue in its first few weeks, attracting 80,000 visitors. Notably, the distinctive Moorish Revival-style architecture of the building, constructed in 1912, has garnered attention on social media, often being mistaken for a mosque, as reported in Casino.org.

The historic Medinah Temple location currently offers approximately 800 slot machines and 56 table games. State regulators have reported that it has already generated approximately $695,000 in city tax revenue. Former Mayor Lori Lightfoot believes that by the end of 2023, the location will contribute $12.8 million to the city’s revenue.

Mayor Promises a Thriving Future

Chicago has high expectations for the Medinah Temple location and is projecting revenues of $34 million in 2024. The casino, situated at 600 N. Wabash Avenue, has been unoccupied since 2020. The three-year operation of the temporary site is expected to create up to 700 job opportunities.

When Mayor Brandon Johnson inaugurated the Medinah location in early October, he emphasized that it is “more than just an entertainment venue.” He further added, “This project is going to secure Chicago’s fiscally strong and vibrant future.”

The construction of the permanent casino in River West is predicted to create thousands of construction jobs, with the city benefiting from up to $200 million annually.

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