Chicago Mayor Speaks on Casino Licensing Process

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

As the process for a casino in Chicago, Illinois continues, Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks out on commitment to fair and transparent bidding.

While attending a gaming industry conference this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago stated that the integrated resort coming to the city will be licensed in a fair and transparent manner. She is calling the development one of the most significant in the history of the land-based gambling industry. At the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States meeting, the mayor called the development a once in a generation opportunity.

No Hometown Favorite

According to Lightfoot, the process will not sway to a hometown favorite. Rush Street Interactive is a nearby company with operations in Des Plaines that may be vying for the Chicago license. It could be that Lightfoot is trying to state that the company will not be a favorite for the development.

During her speech at the meeting, Lightfoot said that the city wants to be sure that the best-in-class opportunities for any operator in the country are provided, with developers understanding the value of offering services in Chicago.

The mayor pointed out that the development will be a nice entertainment district that offers many rewards for the Chicago economy. Thousands of jobs will be created from the development with hundreds of billions in new gaming revenues generated from the property. The city and state will benefit from the earnings.

Requests for proposals were launched in April and the city will continue to receive the proposals until August. The finalists in the project will not be announced until 2022. The winning bidder will be able to choose the location of the casino, but the city must approve the spot. Many of those in the bidding war have asked about a location near the downtown area.

The winning bid will be chosen based on several factors including maximizing taxes for the city as well as integrating in the community, earn LEED certification, and be able to meet high-level architectural standards.

Lightfoot stated that the project winner must also be able to offer sustainable jobs with good pay for employees.

Continued Growth in the Gaming Sector

The new Chicago casino will be one of several ways that the gambling industry in Illinois has continued to grow and expand. Right now, there are 10 casinos in the state and video gaming terminals are offered in thousands of locations. Two years ago, legislators passed a gaming expansion bill that allowed the creation of the Chicago casino along with legalizing sports betting.

Last year, sports betting saw $2 billion in bets placed, which was in the top five US states offering legalized gambling in 2020. For this year, the state is on track to triple that amount, or go higher, depending on how the end of the year plays out.

Illinois offers online and land-based betting with top operators like William Hill, FanDuel, and DraftKings offering services. The state does require a land-based sign-up for a new online account, which is the only downside to the online sports betting industry.

Legislators are also looking into expanding into the online gambling market with casino games, but legislation has yet to gain major traction at this time. The focus now is mainly on getting the Chicago casino up and running, bringing in much-needed funds along with jobs for the city and state.

It will be interesting to see which companies vie for the license in Chicago. How much will it take to be the chosen entity to create the venue in the capital city? It would not be surprising to see astronomical bids as companies try to outdo each other to be named the winner.

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