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Chicago finally kicks off casino process

Friday, Aug 28, 2020

* Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday took the next step in the push for a Chicago casino, putting out a request for gambling operators and real estate developers to submit plans about how they would build and run what is expected to be a gigantic betting parlor in the city.

The request for information from the operators was the expected next step after Springfield lawmakers came through with the changes to the casino tax structure the mayor wanted to the legislation that allowed a gambling hall in the city.

“After securing favorable legislation that had eluded us for decades, Chicago can finally pursue a once in a generation opportunity to bring a casino to our city, generating hundreds of millions in new gaming revenues to shore up the City’s pension obligations and drive huge levels of infrastructure funding in Illinois as well as creating thousands of new and much needed jobs for local residents,” Lightfoot said Thursday.

The request for information asks applicants to talk about their thoughts on operating a temporary casino while a permanent one is under construction, and asks them to weigh in on what factors the city should prioritize for the location of the casino, including how many acres of land will be required.

* The “in the heart of” the city language kinda tips her hand on the location

Firms have until Oct. 21 to submit their pitch for this “once-in-a-generation opportunity for new gaming and entertainment development in the heart of a major American city,” as described by city officials.

Those plans should envision a Chicago casino “that would provide much-needed city and state revenues, as well as create well-paying jobs for Chicago residents,” according to the request for information packet released Thursday.

The city is looking for a company that has “demonstrated excellence in casino design, development, sustainability and operations, financial stability, accommodation of multi-modal transportation needs and giving back to the community” to operate the casino, according to the request. […]

The city also asked firms to weigh in on what impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on a Chicago casino. Illinois’ other casinos have been operating at a reduced capacity of 50% or less since the stay-at-home order was lifted at the end of May.

* Sun-Times

Last summer, her office offered up five South and West side sites — a list she stressed is “not definitive” — for a state-mandated consultant to evaluate. They included the Harborside Golf Course area at 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Freeway; Pershing Road and State Street; Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue; and the former U.S. Steel parcel at 80th Street and Lake Shore Drive.

But “the slate is clean” for developers to opine on where the casino should go, according to Samir Mayekar, Lightfoot’s deputy mayor for economic and neighborhood development.

“We are very interested in what developers will come back with, the acreage they envision, the entertainment district possibilities, all of those factors,” Mayekar said. […]

The city is asking developers to submit packets of information by Oct. 21.

After reviewing those, Lightfoot’s team will begin planning public meetings and planning when to request firm proposals from developers, Mayekar said.

* And a dude who represents potential Chicago casino competitors freely admits to bad-mouthing the city to potential investors

One industry player underlined questions about how viable a Chicago casino is right now, with COVID-19 still running loose.

In an email, consultant Guy Chipparoni, who represents clients seeking casino licenses in Rockford and in the south suburbs, says he’s urged potential Chicago bidders who have approached him to go slow. Financing will be difficult “amidst a consolidating industry that has taken a big hit with the pandemic,” he said. And there is more competition for the gambling dollar. The real question, in his view: “Are deep-pocketed companies willing to plow through this with social equity in mind? Can they see through the issues in our city’s windshield today?”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

6 Comments
  1. - Downstate - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 10:09 am:

    I’m asking legitimately, “why don’t they allow video gaming in the city of Chicago?”


  2. - Annonin' - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 10:16 am:

    Gotta love Chips “advice” almost spit the coffee across the room “Social equity” has long been Job 1 for casinos —- every body loses all the time. Shucks even the nation’s leader went broke.


  3. - Homebody - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 10:22 am:

    As a poker player I’d love to not have to go to Hammond any more, if only for my own convenience trying to get home at 3am.

    But that being said, there is no way this thing gets physically constructed for years, even if they started official building now. No one should ever be portraying casinos as a quick fix for state or city budgets. This needs to be part of a long term plan by the city to develop a robust tourism district that will attract out of town dollars and work in conjunction with existing (or new) hotels, theaters, etc. The city should look at this as an opportunity to build the equivalent of Bourbon Street, Times Square, Fremont Street Experience, etc.

    If they just drop a big gray box in the middle of nowhere, it will never live up to its potential.


  4. - Huh? - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 10:40 am:

    demonstrated “excellence in casino design, development, sustainability and operations, financial stability,”

    Wait just a minute. … Does this mean the tramp organization is not allowed to put in a bid?


  5. - Cheryl44 - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    Instead of a casino, the city should put slots in museum lobbies. There’s always those tourists being dragged to the Art Institute who would love that.


  6. - GregN - Friday, Aug 28, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    I remember my mom opening a can of something for dinner. It was literally SOS reheated, and poured over white toast. Looked at the can, was called Chipparoni.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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