Bally’s File Application With State For First Chicago Casino – Chicago Tribune

Bally filed its application with the Illinois Gaming Board on Wednesday, taking a major step in the process of creating Chicago’s first casino and major asset for its rapidly growing company.

Gaming Board spokesman Joe Miller said the application is expected to be posted online Thursday morning.

The clock is running for the publicly traded Rhode Island-based company to win license approval from the state, finalize its proposal with the city’s planning department, and open its casino on an ambitious timeline.

If all goes well, Chicago gamblers could split aces and slot levers into tentative quarters by next summer, but several hurdles remain.

Bally’s Proposal to Build a $1.74 Billion Casino Complex River West is expected to generate $200 million in annual tax revenue for the city, transform a 30-acre industrial site into a bustling entertainment venue and send the Chicago Tribune packing from its Freedom Center printing plant along the Chicago River.

While permanent casinos are not expected to open before 2026, Bali has plans to open a temporary casino at Medina Temple by June 2023. This may require a quick process in the gaming board.

The state allows casinos to operate in a temporary facility for up to two years, with the ability to apply for an additional 12-month extension, before opening a permanent location. The most recent licensee – Hard Rock Casino Rockford – took 16 months to get initial approval from the board and two years to open the temporary casino.

Beyond logistical issues, there has been some push back To make use of the 110-year-old Medina Temple, which was designated as a Chicago landmark in 2001, as a temporary casino.

Preservation Futures, a Chicago-based historic preservation firm, sent a letter to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks to reject the adaptive reuse of the Medina Temple as “inappropriate” and not “in reconciliation” with the public benefit of preservation. .

On Friday, the commission issued conditional approval for the plan, saying it “will not have an adverse effect” on the historic property.

Bally’s also has to navigate the Chicago Planning Commission, up and running neighborhood protest, for the final approval of your permanent casino. The River North Residents Association, which represents about 23,000 people living near the site of the proposed bally, is calling for significant adjustments to the plan.

The casino company has yet to exercise its option to buy the printing plant site from Dallas-based Nexstar Media Group, the owner of the nation’s largest TV station, which it acquired as part of its 2019 acquisition. $4.1 billion purchase of Tribune Media – Former broadcast guardian of Tribune Publishing.

Tribune Publishing is in talks with Nexstar to extend the lease of its printing plant, which is set to expire in June 2023, for another 10 years. At the same time, the Tribune’s parent company, hedge fund Alden Global Capital, has a contract to buy the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s recently defunct printing plant in West Milwaukee.

When Bally purchases the site, she will become the landowner of Tribune Publishing and will have the right to transfer the printing operations. Bali President Sue Kim previously told the Tribune that he would not rule out moving the plant to its current site.

Kim is a founding partner of the New York hedge fund Standard General, the casino company’s largest shareholder.

Once Chicago-based casino operatorBally’s name was purchased in 2020 by Twin Rivers Holdings, the hedge fund-controlled company that over the past decade assembled a chain of 14 casinos in 10 states, including Bali’s Quad Cities in Rock Island.

In March, Mayor Lori Lightfoot reduced to five offers For the three finalists: Bally at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center, Rivers at 78 in the South Loop and Hard Rock at the proposed One Central development on the Near South Side. Bali bested the other finalists win approval from the city council in May

The Chicago casino will be Bali’s biggest and most expensive asset, prompting some analysts to question whether the company has the financial means to pull it off. In June, Fitch Ratings revised the outlook for Bally’s from stable to negative, citing the “performance risk” of Chicago’s growth.

Meanwhile, Cowen issued a more bullish outlook for Bally’s last month, noting that the company “overtook industry giants and hometown heroes” to win Chicago’s first casino license on “attractive” terms.

To help finance Chicago’s development, Bali last month entered into a sale-lease-back agreement with Gaming and Leisure Properties for its Bali’s Tiverton Casino and Hotel in Rhode Island and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. did, which would net the company $635 million.

“The sale-leaseback provides the certainty of funding for land purchases and construction of temporary as well as continued development expenses for the project,” Kim said on Wednesday. “This is a big step towards asset financing.”

Eddie Quigg of the Chicago Tribune contributed.

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