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Chicago City Council gives final approval for its flagship casino

Bally’s, the multinational casino entertainment company, has cleared a major regulatory hurdle towards the realisation of its plans to build a $1.7 billion flagship casino and entertainment complex in River West, Chicago. On Wednesday, the corporation received final approval from the Chicago City Council through a majority vote of the city’s Aldermen. Bally’s now awaits approval of its casino license from the Illinois Gaming Board.

The city’s Aldermen voted 39-5 to give the go-ahead for an amendment to Planned Development No. 1426, which authorized the zoning for the project’s construction. With this approval, Bally’s is on its way to building Chicago’s first casino, which will be located at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Centre along the Chicago River and near the intersection between Halsted Street and Chicago Avenue.

The first phase of the project includes one million square-feet casinos, a hotel with 500 rooms, a 3,000-seater event center, retail space and a large public park. Future phases will feature 4,800 apartments and condos, retail space, 250 hotel rooms and multiple dining options. The casino will have 3,400 slot machines, 170 table games and several designated spaces for eating and drinking. The project is expected to create up to 3,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs for residents of Windy City.

In a press release, Bally’s Chairman, Soo Kim, with enthusiasm noted: “This is a significant achievement and another critical step forward in the process of developing Bally’s Chicago.” “We are confident that the casino will bring numerous long-term, positive economic benefits, including good-paying, union jobs, to this great city.”

The final vote from the City Council was preceded by a recommendation for approval by the Plan Commission and Committee on Zoning earlier in the week. At the time of the vote, many of the Aldermen expressed support for the project with Ald. Walter Burnett called it a “a big deal.” Nonetheless, criticism still came from some quarters who believed the mayor rushed the selection process during the casino bids. Others criticised the location of the proposed casino as adding to the congested traffic in the area.

Bringing a casino to Chicago is a major priority for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, especially as the city envisions the casino ultimately generating $200 million annually for the city. The tax revenue will be used to fund the city’s struggling police and fire pension systems, amongst other needs of the city.

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