City begins review, selection process for $1 billion-plus casino-resort project

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Rendering of the proposed Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC project in the South Loop

The City of Chicago has released a summary of five proposals received through its RFP process to create a casino-resort and entertainment experience in the city. The proposals range in value from $1.3 to $2.0 billion.

Applicants will present their proposals to the public on Dec. 16 with location and timing forthcoming, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office says in a Nov. 19 statement.

“The caliber of the proposals from Bally’s Corporation, HR Chicago LLC, Rivers Chicago at McCormick LLC and Rivers Gaming LLC are in line with our vision to develop a world-class experience in Chicago that will drive significant economic growth and employment opportunities for our communities,” Lightfoot said. “Each proposal provides a unique vision for what Chicago’s casino-resort could look like, and our expert review committees are ready to dive into discussions to usher in a new and exciting era for our city.”

The proposals are as follows, in alphabetical order. Note: Select proposals include development plans intended to be completed in phases.

  • Bally’s Corporation, Proposal #1: $1.8 billion property in the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center with 500 rooms; six restaurant/cafes and a food hall; three bars and lounges; 3,000-seat, 70,000 sq. ft. entertainment venue; 20,000 sq. ft of exhibition space; outdoor/rooftop green space including bars, lounges and pools; 3,400 slots and 173 table games.
  • Bally’s Corporation, Proposal #2: $1.6 billion property in McCormick Place Truck Marshaling with 500 rooms; six restaurant/cafes and a food hall; three bars and lounges; 3,000-seat, 70,000 sq. ft. entertainment venue; 20,000 sq. ft of exhibition space; outdoor/rooftop green space including bars, lounges and pools; 3,400 slots and 173 table games.
  • HR Chicago, LLC: $1.7 billion property from Hard Rock International at ONE Central project site with up to 500 rooms, eight restaurant/cafes and a food hall, six bars and lounges, 3,500-seat Hard Rock Live, Rock Spa, Hard Rock Music and Entertainment Experience, 3,400 slots and 166 table games.
  • Rivers Chicago at McCormick, LLC: $1.3 billion property at Lakeside Center at McCormick Place managed by Rush Street Gaming, LLC utilizing McCormick Place’s 2,900 hotel rooms with ability to add 250 or more additional rooms; 12 restaurant/cafes including a food hall; four bars and lounges in addition to full bars at seven restaurants; 4,200-seat updated Arie Crown Theater; direct covered access to McCormick Place Convention Center; dramatic lakefront setting with outdoor dining, entertainment and other lakeside programming; 2,600 slots and 190 table games.
  • Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC: $2.0 billion property managed by Rush Street Gaming, LLV in the eight-acre riverfront entertainment district at the northern end of the mixed-use 78 neighborhood with 300 rooms; eight restaurant/cafes and a food hall, five bars and lounges; Riverfront plaza; Observation Tower with indoor/outdoor viewing space; Harbor Hall multi-purpose riverfront venue for live entertainment, culture/arts and community programs with rooftop space; 2,600 slots and 190 table games.

The mayor’s office says the Proposal Review Team includes experts made up of a cross-section of city department leaders who will determine the recommended winning bidder. This recommendation will be made by the review committee to Lightfoot, who will ultimately make the determination with City Council approval.

City of Chicago Departments (In alphabetical order): 

  • Chicago Department of Aviation
  • Chicago Police Department
  • Department of Finance
  • Mayor’s Office
  • Department of Law
  • Department of Planning & Development
  • Chicago Department of Transportation
  • Chicago Fire Department
  • Department of Buildings
  • Department of Streets & Sanitation
  • Department of Water Management

Consultants: Design, Feasibility, Financial, Traffic, Workforce, Legal

The following details the next steps in the process going into early 2022.

  • City commences negotiations of agreement(s) with selected applicant(s) and city commences required city department and agency reviews for planned development process 
  • Follow-up community meeting(s) to present revisions of selected applicant’s proposal, if necessary, for planned development process 
  • City selects final applicant  
  • Ordinance introduced to City Council in support of the selected applicant; applicant submits introduction to City Council of planned development application  
  • Chicago Plan Commission hearing for selected applicant 
  • City Council Committee of Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards 
  • City Council adopts ordinance supporting the selected applicant and planned development  

The holder of the Chicago owner’s license has the opportunity to operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months (subject to a 12-month extension) and, thereafter, a permanent casino located in the city. Applicants selected through the RFP process then must apply to the state for the owner’s license and meet the state’s licensing requirements.

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