This story was originally published in N’DIGO, a Black lifestyle publication in Chicago that covers pop culture, politics and more. The TRiiBE is a small newsroom and with the support of other Black Chicago outlets, we will be delivering coverage of the 2022 midterms and the 2023 Chicago municipal election.

Casinos are coming to Chicago — but where exactly is the question. On April 6-8, casino bidders had the opportunity to present their big-picture projections to hundreds of citizens at multiple venues in various communities. Registration was required, and attendees were allowed to ask questions. We attended the one at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Opponents living in the neighborhoods where these proposed casinos would go have rejected the idea of them. Casinos could change the character of a neighborhood by bringing heavy car and foot traffic, and possibly crime, to the area.

Here is a summary of all of the casino offerings for Chicago.

Bally’s Chicago

The casino bids come with the 2023 Chicago municipal election on the horizon, when the political play is authentic. Photo courtesy of Bally's Chicago

Bally’s is the only pure casino operator. It proposes building at the Chicago Tribune‘s printing plant on North Halsted Street and West Chicago Avenue in the River West area. The plan is to spend at least $1.3 billion on the 30-acre site. Bally’s had two sites in its proposal. The one not chosen was the truck marshaling space at McCormick Place.

It calls for a theater that would seat 3,000, a 500-room luxury hotel that would open with 100 rooms and a Riverwalk extension. Bally’s proposed solution to the traffic problem would be widening existing streets, constructing new streets through the Tribune site and improving traffic signals. Its plan promises community ownership, local jobs and building by a minority-controlled, Chicago-based contractor team.

Bally’s was criticized for how it initially structured the minority investment, claiming that after six years, investors could sell their shares. That has since changed. 

Minority investors now can hold onto their investment or sell their ownership position back to Bally’s. The project promises, “women and minorities will account for a minimum of 20% of the ownership.” Bally’s also offered the city $25 million upon signing a deal to build the casino. It is the only one so far offering an upfront infusion of cash. 

Bally’s plan produces the most revenue for the city coffers, at $192 million per year.

The 78

The 78. Photo courtesy of The 78 Chicago.

The 78 is proposing a brand-new community on South 12th Street that reimagines a Chicago neighborhood. The casino would house Rush Street Gaming, presented by Chicago’s Related Midwest. It would be a mega-development and Rush Street Gaming is experienced in operating casinos in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and more.

The casino would become an anchoring part of the development on one end. The other end is  an “innovation” educational institution called “Discovery,” a university that would include the brightest students from University of Illinois and Illinois Institute of Technology. The project would be located on 62 acres of land at Roosevelt Road and Clark Street. Related Midwest also proposes housing to include affordable housing with rentals and condos.

Its proposal is a $1.6 billion bid that includes “an Eiffel Tower for Chicago,” new local businesses in the form of eateries, specialty shops, retail shops and outdoor activity. It also includes an entertainment component, with a theater that seats 3,000. 

The proposal also suggests a re-born Mister Kelly’s nightclub, a once-popular spot on Rush Street.  The project promises to connect Chinatown, Pilsen, Little Italy, Bronzeville, Bridgeport, South Loop and the Loop. The Riverwalk will extend and expand from downtown to Ping Ton Park, with a 300-room boutique hotel. 

Related Midwest projects $174.2 million in tax revenue for the city. The 78 new neighborhood development will proceed with or without the casino. An 11-year-old young man made an interesting observation at the public hearings, saying, “We don’t need a casino to have a nice community.” Representatives projected the development will bring 7,000 construction and permanent jobs, but they didn’t give a breakdown of how many of those jobs will be designated for minorities.

One Central

One Central project plan. Photo courtesy of One Central.

The One Central proposal, overseen by Landmark Development, is a mega-development with a Hard Rock casino. Minority-owned firm Loop Capital is a partner player. The space is behind Soldier’s Field. It projects $185.3 million in city tax revenue. 

The venue calls for a 3,500-seat entertainment center and a 500-room hotel. The state of Illinois would provide a subsidy of $6.5 billion for the development. The project also calls for an undisclosed amount of funding from the city of Chicago.

One Central will be a transportation hub for the city, creating a new line called “CHI-LINE.” The new hub would connect Metra, South Shore Line, Amtrak and a new L track. 

Landmark Development says it will proceed with the 10-15 year venture even if it isn’t granted a casino license.

The Selection Process

The three bids have been sent to a new Chicago City Council casino committee chaired by Aldpeople Thomas Tunney (44th Ward) and Jason Ervin (28th Ward). They will recommend a selection to Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot will choose a bid, then it will be sent to the City Council for a vote. Then the final step is the casino bid would require approval from the State Gaming Board.

The site would bring significant new revenue to the city and take care of the Chicago Park District pension system, which has more than $800 million in unfunded liabilities and only a 30% funding ratio, according to


The casino bids come with the 2023 Chicago municipal election on the horizon, when the political play is authentic. Lightfoot might bring casinos to town, but may not be the one to “build” them. She may make the selection and leave it to another to marshall. Nevertheless, the projects are forward-thinking and will transform Chicago.

Lightfoot is aiming to make a decision on the casino bids by summer 2022. This week, Crain’s Chicago Business reported that the mayor is asking up to $75 million in money — upfront— from the winning project.

is the president and CEO of Chicago-based Hartman Publishing Group. She also publishes N’DIGO weekly newsmagazine.