In Chicago’s casino discussions last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot pulled a switcheroo. Her administration’s revelation that it had narrowed the casino proposals to three jumbled the sequence of things and left at least one player at the table, a person who wasn’t Neil Bluhm, feeling fairly pleased.
Many people felt Bluhm had the inside scoop on this. He still has a chance. Bluhm, the chairman of Rush Street Gaming, which operates the most profitable casino in Illinois, the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, mixes real estate development talents with gaming expertise, and his political and commercial relationships here are unrivaled.
How was Bluhm involved?
Bluhm was involved in two of the five first casino offers. He built a strong local coalition to boldly propose taking over Lakeside Center, McCormick Place’s oldest and least-used conference hall, as well as the one that needed the most work. Bally’s, another bidder, submitted a proposal to utilize other areas of the McCormick Place site.
Nobody was authorized to speak with the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which manages McCormick Place, under the city’s procedure. That was an issue. The authority’s CEO, Larita Clark, issued a stinging condemnation of the ideas concerning convention center property last month.
Clark cautioned that the authority will need to spend up to $1 billion to replace space if the meetings sector continued to recover from the epidemic, claiming that all she understood about the casino was what she saw in the public bids. Before any agreement could be reached, there were talks of bureaucratic roadblocks, including the necessity to modify state legislation.
Why Doesn’t Chicago Have a Casino?
For much of the previous 30 years, the city’s casino dreams have been hampered by delays and expense increases, according to Clark. It took a little over a month for the Lightfoot team to reply.
The Bluhm-Related Midwest partnership for the vacant Near South Side property known as The 78, another Bally’s proposal at the Chicago Tribune printing plant at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street, and a Hard Rock proposal to build over the Metra tracks west of Soldier Field as part of a proposed development called One Central are the three bids still on the table. Hard Rock has said that its casino would go forward without the rest of the project, which includes state money for a transportation hub.
Could the Casino Bid go to Bally’s?
Bally’s seems to be gaining on Bluhm if it hasn’t already pulled ahead, while the complicated Hard Rock air rights contract, which involves a number of government organizations, appears to be dangling by a thread.
Three major issues raised by the city in its report lead to this conclusion. The following are the variables to consider while selecting a winner: 1.) How much money is expected to be made by the casino? This is intended to help bail out the pension funds for cops and firefighters. 2.) How fast will it get up and running? 3.) Is there a problem between the corporation and other casinos?
Bluhm is based in Des Plaines, whereas Hard Rock is based in Gary. One reason for this is that Chicago wants a piece of the estimated $331 million in yearly gaming money that flows from Illinois to Indiana.
Because it can convert a building north of the Tribune publishing site, the Bally’s location could be up and running soon with a temporary casino, according to the article. It was thought that this may happen around the middle of 2023, but that seems to be a reach. After community meetings, Lightfoot has postponed her selection until this summer.
The River North Residents Association has expressed concern about the Bally’s location, and an advisory committee for The 78 has produced a survey indicating that the majority of individuals in the area reject a casino. The City Council must make a decision. Lightfoot’s choice must go through the Illinois Gaming Board, which may take months to examine and do due diligence on casino investors.
Last Updated on by Ryan