Chicago casino attendance, revenue still below opening month

The Times Of Northwest Indiana
Chicago casino attendance, revenue still below opening month
Wild Casino

The new casino in downtown Chicago, after nearly three full months in business, has yet to become the tourist mecca or gambling emporium its supporters hoped it would be.

Data released by the Illinois Gaming Board Thursday show November attendance and revenue at Bally's Chicago were relatively unchanged compared to the casino's October results.

Altogether, Bally's tallied 86,459 guests at its Medinah Temple gaming facility in November — the second-highest attendance of Illinois' 15 casinos last month, behind only the Rivers Casino in west suburban Des Plaines and its 249,253 patrons.

The Bally's customer count, however, amounts to an average of just 2,882 visitors per day, about the same as the 2,681 guests per day Bally's saw in October, and down nearly 14% from Bally's 3,347 daily visitors during its first month of operations in September.

In fact, Elgin's 29-year-old Grand Victoria Casino, with 85,628 patrons in November, was just 831 guests shy of topping Bally's in attendance last month.

More importantly, Bally's in November also saw flat daily "win" — which is the casino's revenue after paying out slot machine and table game players — compared to October.

November win at the Chicago casino totaled $7.6 million, or $253,604 a day. That's about the same as its $245,446 daily win in October, and nearly a 9% decline from Bally's $278,268 daily win during September.

Overall, Bally's November win ranked fourth-highest in Illinois behind Rivers ($43.5 million), Grand Victoria ($12.9 million), and Harrah's Joliet ($10 million).

Win at the Hollywood casinos in Joliet ($7.3 million) and Aurora ($7.3 million), and the American Place temporary casino in Waukegan ($7.1 million) also nearly beat Bally's Chicago, records show.

The Indiana Gaming Commission isn't scheduled to release its November revenue report for Hoosier State casinos until Monday.

But if history is any guide, the casinos in Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Michigan City each will show a considerably higher win last month compared to the new Chicago casino.

In November 2022, for example, the lowest win at a Northwest Indiana casino was $10.1 million at Blue Chip in Michigan City.

Ameristar Casino in East Chicago tallied $15.2 million in November 2022 win, Horseshoe Casino in Hammond took in $25.8 million, and the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana in Gary led the state that month last year with $35.4 million in win, or $1.2 million per day, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

The lackluster initial performance of Bally's Chicago means it's unlikely to meet the city's tax revenue target of $50 million a year during operations at Medinah Temple, and $200 million a year in 2026 and beyond after Bally's opens a $1.7 billion permanent casino, entertainment and hotel complex at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street in the city's River West neighborhood.

In November, Bally's paid just $779,000 in casino taxes to Chicago's severely underfunded police and firefighter pension accounts, records show.