Illinois Gaming Board OKs Chicago Temp Casino for Bally’s

Illinois Gaming Board OKs Chicago Temp Casino for Bally’s
By Steve Bittenbender
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

A long-awaited casino will soon become a reality in the Windy City.

The Illinois Gaming Board, at its meeting Thursday, issued a preliminary finding of suitability for Bally’s Corp. to operate a $1.7 billion casino resort in Chicago.

While it’s a “very significant and important step” in the licensure process, IGB Administrator Marcus Fruchter told the board there will be more reviews before the Rhode Island company receives a license.

What the preliminary finding does, though, is allow Bally’s to move forward with plans for a temporary casino while that full review takes place. The temporary casino will still need to receive a license.

“The ruling will enable us to continue development efforts on Bally's Chicago Casino temporary site at the iconic Medinah Temple,” the company said in a statement after the IGB meeting. “As a world-class city and a global destination, Chicago provides an exceptional environment to offer outstanding amenities to visitors and residents alike.” This is in addition to the already flourishing Illinois sports betting scene.

The permanent venue is slated for the Chicago Tribune printing plant. That development will hold up to 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games, making it the largest casino in Illinois. Other amenities planned for the site include a 500-room hotel and 3,000-seat theater, with Bally’s Chairman Soo Kim saying it will serve as the company’s “flagship” location.

Bally’s officials told the IGB Thursday that the company has received more than 11,000 job applications for the project. It expects to need 700 for the Medinah Temple site and 3,000 for the permanent venue.

Chicago leaders picked Bally’s as its preferred operator last year after an extensive process that attracted bids from projects involving Rush Street Gaming and Hard Rock International.

The city became eligible to host a casino after state lawmakers approved an expanded gaming bill in 2019. The initiative was delayed, though, after concerns about the tax structure led to questions about its feasibility, prompting the legislature to pass a second bill the following year.

Chicago officials will use the revenue generated by the Bally’s casino to pay down its unfunded public pension liabilities.

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Gaming Board Extends Full House, Hard Rock Temp Venues

The IGB also approved one-year extensions for two other temporary casinos operating in the state.

815 Entertainment received its extension for a temp casino in Rockford, which is a placeholder for a Hard Rock Casino slated to open in the northern Illinois town. The IGB’s approval will allow 815 to operate the temporary casino through Nov. 10, 2024, three years after it first opened.

Full House Resorts received similar approval for its facility in Waukegan. The Las Vegas-based company is building a $375 million casino resort in the community between Chicago and Milwaukee. Its temporary casino, aptly named The Temporary, is now approved to operate until Feb. 17, 2026.

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Full House Approved for Sports Betting License

The board also approved casino owner and master sports wagering licenses for Full House. The latter is a key step toward Circa Sports, Full House’s sports betting partner in the state, getting its license.

Circa officials are hoping to launch in the state later this year. Illinois would be the fourth state for the company, which also offers sports betting in Colorado, Iowa and Nevada.

Aside from the exciting casino news, you can catch all the best Illinois sportsbook apps on

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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