Bally’s temporary casino in downtown Chicago could open within two weeks, pending approval from the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB). The Chicago Sun-Times has estimated Sep. 9 as the likely opening date, assuming a successful inspection of the Medinah Temple property by the regulator on Sep. 5. Other casinos in the state have typically opened within a few days of their inspection date.
IGB will also oversee practice gaming sessions on Sep. 6 and 7 before giving the green light for a public opening.
IGB’s approval will be the final step in a long process. In June, the regulator deemed Bally’s application “preliminarily suitable,” and Bally’s initially hoped it would be able to open in July.
The temporary casino will feature 800 slots and 50 table games. It is a precursor to Bally’s Chicago, a $1.7 billion casino resort project in the downtown core. Bally’s will operate at its temporary location until that project reaches fruition. Bally’s expects that to happen in 2026, although we’ve already seen that delays are possible.
Proponents of the casino project expect both sites to help the city and state economies by generating millions in tax revenue and providing employment to hundreds, eventually thousands of Illinoisans.
New Law Could Help Fill Some Available Positions
At the time of writing, the careers page on Bally’s corporate website listed over 50 roles (some including multiple open positions). These were for a wide range of entry-level and management positions in areas such as:
- Casino floor
- Customer management
- Housekeeping & maintenance
- Restaurant & bar
Earlier this month, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a law that allows former convicts to work in casinos. That may help Bally’s in its need to fill a large number of positions in a short period.
Those with criminal convictions are still not eligible to take roles directly related to gaming. However, many of the positions Bally’s is hiring for fall qualify as non-gaming roles, such as those in the hotel, restaurants, or warehouse. According to some estimates, over 30,000 Illinoisans are newly eligible to apply, thanks to the bill. IGB review is required for each such application.
Anticipated Impact of Bally’s Chicago on IL Economy
Chicago officials hope to get as much as $55 million in tax revenue annually from the temporary casino. Meanwhile, the permanent Bally’s Chicago could generate as much as $200 million annually. Bally’s Chicago will include 3,400 slots and 170 table games, a hotel, and an entertainment venue.
The casino would be located at the Chicago Tribune printing plant site at the Freedom Center, north of downtown. The project is expected to help Chicago’s economy significantly.
The tax revenue will help the city, as Chicago faces a $48 billion pension plan deficit. Bally’s Chicago tax revenue will go towards police and firefighter pension funds. In addition, it will also partly finance Gov. Pritzker’s infrastructure plans.
In addition to tax revenue, the project will create 3,000 construction and 3,000 permanent full-time jobs. Under an agreement with the city, 60% of all jobs would go to minorities. The state will further benefit from Bally’s tax revenue as it would reduce Illinois’ overreliance on video gaming terminals (VGT) tax revenue.