Chicago City Council members and a special committee are discussing today the Bally’s casino project to develop the city’s first and sole casino, which already saw the approval of city officials earlier this month. A vote is expected to happen later on Monday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reportedly pushing for a plan to get the project approved as soon as this week.
The deal was expected to get its first vote Friday by a special committee consisting of aldermen in order to advance the $1.74 billion River West casino proposal through to the full City Council. However, those on the committee said they had received the first draft of the casino contract just 48 hours earlier, with several changes made overnight after it was sent, NBC Chicago reports. As a result, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), vice chairman of Lightfoot’s hand-picked casino committee delayed the vote, saying more time is needed to examine the details.
“We have to make sure they are comfortable, that they have got all the information they need,” Lightfoot’s office said. “This is a very big decision that the city council, all 50 of them, have to make.” Lightfoot is presiding over Monday’s City Council meeting.
CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL: Mayor Lightfoot presides over a meeting of the Chicago City Council. #ChiCityCouncil
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) May 23, 2022
The full City Council is already scheduled to meet at 10 a.m., and Tunney said the plan is to recess that meeting by 1 p.m., so the Special Casino Committee can meet for a vote, and send it to the full City Council, which would reconvene at 4 p.m., and then “defer and publish” the committee’s recommendation, paving the way for a final vote by the full council at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.
On Friday, much of the debate at a committee hearing focused on criticism leveled by downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, who said the city was rushing through a decision that could increase crime and traffic, from both the permanent casino and a temporary casino, slated to open in Q2 2023, at the Medinah Temple building, 600 N. Wabash Ave. in River North. These concerns were also voiced by residents in a public meeting on May 12.
After full city council approval, its next step is the Illinois Gaming Board and then back to city council for zoning and other approvals.