Illinois gamblers anticipating Chicago’s first casino venue, a temporary establishment by Bally’s at the historic Medinah Temple (pictured), will now be waiting until September.
The Rhode Island-based corporation recently announced the slight delay from the mid-August opening initially suggested by its executives.
Previously, the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) gave an early nod to Bally’s mega-development in June, which was a first step towards launching the temporary casino at Medinah. Bally’s initially hoped for a potential June or August launch for the initial operation. But that has been pushed pending final regulatory approval.
The temporary venue is expected to operate for up to three years while the permanent, $1.7 billion structure is built at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.
“The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) continues to work with Bally’s Chicago to open the temporary casino at Medinah Temple in an ethical, compliant, and efficient manner,” said the regulator’s spokeswoman, Beth Kaufman, speaking to the Chicago Sun Times late last week.
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A Little Delayed
The IGB’s of “preliminary suitability” allowed Bally’s to start moving slots and table games into the temple at 600 N. Wabash Ave. However, the company still has to pass a few final inspections, including a gaming test run, before the board’s administrator issues the temporary operating permit.
Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim had previously indicated an eight-week time line for the casino’s opening, which would have seen gamblers inside Medinah by the second week of August.
However, during a quarterly earnings call, Bally’s CEO Robeson Reeves informed investors that the Medinah project remains on schedule for a September opening.
Bally’s CFO Marcus Glover acknowledged the new time line in the company call. “Obviously, we’re a little delayed from what we communicated to you last time on opening,” he said.
Eagerly Anticipated Results
The city officials are banking on up to $55 million in annual tax revenue from Medinah, which will house about 750 slot machines and 50 table games.
The permanent casino, at the River West site of the current Chicago Tribune printing plant, will have more than 3,000 slots and 700 full-time employees.
Chicago expects some $200 million a year in taxes from the full operation, which politicians say is needed to stop up a short gap in pension funds for city employees.
Bally’s, meanwhile, has already spent over $250 million on the project, which has yet to even break ground.
Construction isn’t expected to begin until at least next July, when the newspaper’s lease expires and it moves out. Bally’s expects to open the permanent casino in 2026.
“We remain confident in the significant pent-up consumer demand for this project and eagerly anticipate generating results,” Reeves said.
The opening of the casino will mark a significant milestone for the city, as it will be the first of its kind in Chicago.
Elsewhere in the Illinois gambling market, several of the state’s long-time riverboat gambling venues have received approval to move their operations inland.
That includes Penn Entertainment’s two Hollywood-branded Illinois riverboat casinos, which will be moving to permanent spots at a cost of some $500 million.