Illinois Proposal May Allow More Time For Temporary Casinos

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The term “temporary casino” may be in the eye of the beholder if recent Illinois legislation is approved. Bally’s recently unveiled a temporary casino in the city’s Medinah Temple with plans to vacate the property after a permanent facility is constructed in three years.

However, the state senate passed a bill Oct. 24 allowing temporary casinos more time to stay open. Current gaming regulations limit a temporary casino to 24 months of operation, but allow for a 12-month extension.

The proposed law would now allow for extending a temporary casino for any “period of time deemed necessary or appropriate” by the Illinois Gaming Board.” That could add considerably to the time the Bally’s Medinah Temple casino stays in operation.

State Sen. Bill Cunningham (D) proposed the bill, which wasn’t aimed at the Chicago casino situation. In Waukegan, Full House Resorts was forced to delay building a permanent casino while a lawsuit regarding the bidding process continues to play out.

Cunningham said Bally’s played no role in the legislation, but added that the new rule “could be helpful to the casino project at some point.”

“If there is a need for a safety hatch involving the Chicago project, this would provide that, too,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The state house of representatives was expected to take up the proposal this week. Bally’s officials have assured gaming regulators that the project is on schedule and will break ground in July 2024.

The temporary venue has already seen more than 157,000 visitors since opening in September. The 34,000-square-foot property boasts 800 slots and 56 table games and is expected to produce 700 jobs and $50 million in tax annual revenue.

Permanent Casino Plans

Bally’s is planning a $1.7 billion casino at Freedom Center in the River West area on property along the Chicago River. The facility will include 3,400 slots, 170 table games, a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat entertainment venue, six restaurants, a food court, three bars, and more.

Company officials expect the project to create thousands of construction jobs. City officials estimate $200 million in annual tax revenue to help shore up police and fire pension debt.

The city owes more than $35 billion to its four employee pension funds including police, firefighters, municipal employees, and other laborers. Along with the tax revenue, Bally’s is sending the casino an initial fee of $40 million, another $4 million annual payment, and also making $75 million in infrastructure improvements.