‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Featured Casino Sites | Chicago News

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is betting on a casino for the city of Chicago by 2025, with three finalists on the table, but not everyone is on the same page.

at Bally’s

Bally’s proposed to build its $1.74 billion casino and resort on what is now the Chicago Tribune’s print shop and pressroom near Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

It reportedly has 3,400 slot machines and 173 table games as well as a 500-room hotel in the River West area.

According to Brian Israel, president of the River North Residents Association, “They’ve never done a project this big or this big,” Israel said. “It’s going to take years, so the price is going to go up, which means they’re going to take on more debt or raise additional capital. The financing plan is a bit questionable so we wonder if this project fails and if it fails, what will happen to the neighborhood.

Israel says his organization serves about 27,000 residents of the community and according to a survey they conducted, about 80% of residents are against Bally’s proposal.

Concerns include increased traffic and the impact it could have on businesses in the area. Israel wondered if there will be enough infrastructure to support this kind of density.

“We share the revenue generation goals and we think we definitely should have increased tourism and trade,” Israel said. “But casinos tend to be aggressive in their economic impact, in other words, the effect on low-income people is much worse than on high-income people.”

Hard Rock

Hardrock Casino, proposed west of Soldier Field, would be part of the One Central development.

It is also a $1.74 billion project and offers similar amenities to those offered by Bally’s with 500 hotel rooms, a food hall, a pedestrian corridor and more.

The main difference is that Hard Rock’s key players in this development are building on their partnership with Roc Nation and a vision of becoming an “international destination” for tourism.

But locals have mixed feelings about using casinos to boost Chicago’s economy.

“It will provide more jobs, but that’s one aspect of jobs,” said South Side resident Claudette Bunton. “If they can do anything other than play, that would be great.”

Juanes Jaramillo, a student at Columbia College, said gambling had only negative effects on his home neighborhood in Ecuador by fueling drug addiction and alcoholism.

“Where I’m from, we don’t have casinos anymore, they banned that,” Jaramillo said. “It’s illegal, people do it, but they get caught.”

Investors in the Hard Rock proposal promised to involve underrepresented communities in the process and seemed willing to talk with violence prevention organizations to find ways to help struggling neighborhoods.

There is also talk of creating a job training center to train casino employees, but that still isn’t enough for some Chicagoans who say casinos target vulnerable populations, including immigrants.

“Whichever of the three parties wins the license, we hope they will continue to engage both with the local communities around them and with our specific needs,” said Grace Chan McKibben, Executive Director of the Coalition for a Better Chinese-American Community. . “We would like them to continue the dialogue, put prevention measures in place and have programs and services for people who need them.”

Rivers 78

Rivers 78 Casino would be built near Clark Street and Roosevelt, as part of what was to be Chicago’s 78th Ward.

Rush Street Gaming’s $1.62 billion proposal is said to have a 300-room hotel tower, an observation tower and a riverside venue for live entertainment.

Original plans for this area called for the construction of homes and a commercial retail corridor. Residents are concerned about the addition to this plan.

“Now that there is a casino [involved], it feels a lot less like a residential community, so how does it work? asks McKibben. “We also understand that UIC has a university center there which is going to be at the south end, and the casino is going to be at the north end. How do the two things fit together? We keep asking questions about it.

The three finalists argued that instead of people leaving town to gamble at nearby casinos, that revenue could go to Chicago, but David Wu, executive director of the Pui Tak Center, said there would be a social cost .

“It’s a difficult issue to deal with because no one is proud to go bankrupt because of their gambling problems,” Wu said. “We are trying to reach more people to overcome the stigma. There is help if you reach out.

Rush Street Gaming’s main selling point is that they will be partnering with several restaurants across the city to give them the opportunity to have space along the Riverwalk. One such business is Ositos Tap in Little Village.

Owner Mike Moreno Jr. grew up in the neighborhood and says if it helps uplift underserved communities, he’s willing to take a leap of faith.

“I have reservations and hesitations myself about a casino in the community,” Moreno Jr. said. more important is that the revenue stream that arrives here is reused back to the community.”

Community Report Series

“Chicago Tonight” is expanding its community reporting. We’re taking to the streets to talk with your neighbors, local businesses, agencies and leaders about COVID-19, the economy, racial justice, education and more. See where we went and what we learned using the map below. Or select a community using the drop-down menu. Dots in red represent our COVID-19 Across Chicago series; blue marks our “Chicago Tonight” series in Your Neighborhood.