Lori Lightfoot

Officials Select 3 Finalists for Billion-Dollar Chicago Casino Project

NBC Universal, Inc.

The process to bring a casino to the city of Chicago took another significant step forward on Tuesday, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced that three bidders have now advanced to the next stage in the competition for a license.

The license, the only one approved for the city by state government, will now be up for a competition between Bally’s Corporation, Hard Rock and Rivers 78, according to a press release.

“We have spent countless hours analyzing each proposal for Chicago’s casino license and have determined that Bally’s Tribune, Hard Rock Chicago and Rivers 78 best fit the core goals we want to achieve for the city’s first integrated casino-resort,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

City officials expect the casino site to generate approximately $400 million in revenue per year, while supporting the city’s tourism industry and economic development initiatives.

Chicago officials also provided a breakdown of each potential casino project:

Bally’s Corporation (Tribune Site) – Bally’s has proposed a $1.74 billion casino project and hotel, which would be located on a portion of the site of the Tribune Publishing Plant in the River West neighborhood.

The proposal includes a 3,000 seat theater, a sports museum, an extension of the Chicago Riverwalk, a pedestrian bridge, a 500-room hotel, an outdoor music venue and park, and six different restaurants.

The proposal would provide space for an estimated 3,400 slot machines and more than 150 gaming tables.

A temporary casino would open in 2023, with the permanent location expected to open in early 2026.

Hard Rock (ONE Central Site) – Hard Rock is proposing a $1.74 billion casino resort just to the north of McCormick Place on Chicago’s lakefront. The proposal would include a 3,500-seat live music venue, a 500-room hotel tower, restaurants, and six different bars and lounges.

According to officials, more than 3,000 slot machines and 166 gaming tables would be included in the plans.

Officials with Hard Rock say they would open a temporary casino in mid-2023, and a permanent casino by late 2025.

Rivers (78) – Rivers 78 includes a $1.62 billion casino project on the site known as “The 78,” a large development on Chicago’s South Side. The proposal would include a riverfront area, an observation tower, a riverfront venue for live entertainment, a 300-room hotel tower, and eight different restaurants.

The site would include room for more than 2,600 slot machines and 190 table games.

A temporary casino could open at the site in early 2024, while the permanent location would open in late 2025, according to officials.

According to city officials, community engagement meetings will be held in early April, offering residents the opportunity to make public comments and to ask questions of developers. The meetings will be livestreamed, and in-person priority will be given to residents who live in the respective ZIP codes of the projects.

Once that process is complete, finalists will be evaluated by city officials, and a winning bid will be chosen following that process. The Chicago City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board will have to sign off on any chosen bid.

Contact Us