Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her administration team will meet on Thursday morning to announce the winning bid for the city’s new casino license.
The license had been open for bids with three preferred bidders shortlisted in recent weeks. The three bidders currently in the frame are Bally’s, Hard Rock, and Rivers. It’s believed that Bally’s was the forerunner as it was the only bid that included an upfront payment. Just last week, Mayor Lightfoot announced a new condition of a significant upfront payment for the winning bidder which some believed saw Bally’s jump to the front of the line.
According to reports by NBC 5, Mayor Lightfoot will confirm today that Bally’s is, in fact, the winning bidder.
The announcement is expected to reveal further details of the $1.74 billion casino that is planned for the River West neighborhood. However, there is strong opposition from local residents and lawmakers to the planned casino.
The bids from Rivers and Hard Rock would have seen casinos located in either South Side or near McCormick Place. But NBC 5 now believes that Bally’s bid was the preferred choice from day one.
Local Alderman Brian Hopkins even went so far as to label the deal a corrupt one telling NBC 5:
“She’s said she’s made no decision, (but) she’s going to come out tomorrow and not explain the justification for it. I’m calling foul on this right now. Chicagoans know a corrupt deal when they see it, and this is a corrupt backroom deal involving potentially billions of dollars.”
The casino will feature numerous amenities and a 500-room hotel. Analysts have predicted tax revenue of $200 million a year with the City say that this money will be earmarked for police and fire pensions.