Chicago Receives Five Bids for City’s First Casino-Resort

Chicago Receives Five Bids for City’s First Casino-Resort

A quartet of potential Illinois gambling operators submitted development proposals for Chicago’s first integrated casino-resort last week.

The list of operators that applied included Bally’s Illinois, which submitted proposals for two sites in the city, in addition to HR Chicago, LLC, Rivers Chicago at McCormick, LLC, and Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC.

Bally’s Illinois was the lone applicant that would operate its own casino, with Hard Rock International running HR Chicago’s bid.

Rush Street Gaming would operate the Rivers Chicago at McCormick property and the Rivers 78 Gaming location.

The city of Chicago has one casino license available, part of the state’s 2019 gambling legislation. That legislation also allowed for the building of a casino in the city’s southern suburbs. That process is down to two finalists, with the winning bid to be selected next year.

Last week, the state’s General Assembly passed a bill that would lift in-person registration for sports betting by no later than March 5, 2022.

That is sure to be a boost to Illinois sports betting sites going forward.

What the City’s Request Entailed

The city of Chicago put out a proposal request earlier this year, in which the Windy City asked gaming operators to apply for their lone license.

The request asked applicants to propose an optimal size for the project, maximizing casino design and development, while also hitting high marks for sustainability, financial stability, giving back to the community, and accommodation of multi-modal transportation.

The applicants were asked to submit proposals for a casino-resort hybrid that included a hotel, restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues — all with an eye toward improving the communities around the facilities and the city at large.

The Chicago gaming license also included an optional lease agreement to operate gambling machines at the city’s two airports — Midway Airport and O’Hare International Airport.

What Are the Perks of the Chicago Plan

The opportunity to build a casino in the middle of the country’s third-largest city, as well as the ability to operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months while the permanent resort casino is constructed, were among the reasons Chicago officials hoped its casino license would be attractive to gaming companies.

The winner of the Chicago resort-casino license will be announced next year, after Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago City Council approve the final bid.

Additional information about the final bids will be released by the city in the coming weeks, according to a press release from the Mayor’s Office.

“We are thrilled to have received five high-caliber proposals from Bally’s Corporation; HR Chicago, LLC; Rivers Chicago at McCormick, LLC; and Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC,” Lightfoot said in the city’s press release. “The submission of bid responses represents a major step toward the thoughtful development of a casino-resort that uplifts our businesses, employs and empowers our residents and encourages tourism. We look forward to the next phase of discussions to bring this world-class entertainment experience to our city.”



Christopher Boan is a lead writer at specializing in covering state issues. He covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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