Planned Integrated Chicago Resort Will Not Be Developed By Las Vegas Company


The developer of Chicago’s first integrated resort will not have a Las Vegas address.

Responses to a call for tenders were announced Friday evening by the city, the country’s third largest metropolitan area with 9.5 million inhabitants.

Five proposals from four different companies were announced. Responses came from:

Bally’s Corp., which submitted two proposals for two different sites; its casino operations would be self-managed. Bally’s, unaffiliated with the Las Vegas Strip ownership that bears the Bally’s name, is licensed to operate casinos in the Lake Tahoe area and plans to acquire the Tropicana in Las Vegas as part of a deal expected to be concluded in early 2022.

HR Chicago, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site; its casino operations would be managed by a subsidiary, Hard Rock International. Affiliated with the Seminole Indian tribe of Florida, the company has expressed interest in acquiring property on the Strip.

Rivers Chicago at McCormick, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site; its casino operations would be managed by Rush Street Gaming, LLC, a Chicago-based company that city officials are familiar with. Rush Street was founded in the mid-1990s by developer Steve Bluhm and financier Greg Carlin.

Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC submitted a proposal for a single site; its casino operations would also be managed by Rush Street.

“We are delighted to have received five high caliber proposals from Bally’s Corp. ; RH Chicago, LLC; Rivers Chicago to McCormick, LLC; and Rivers 78 Gaming, LLC, ”Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a city statement.

“The submission of bid responses represents a major step towards the thoughtful development of a casino complex that elevates our businesses, employs and empowers our residents and encourages tourism,” she said. “We look forward to the next phase of discussions to bring this world-class entertainment experience to our city.”

Lightfoot sang a slightly different tune in April when Chicago first detailed the city’s plans for a resort property. She said she was eager for a Las Vegas company to make an offer, knowing that Las Vegas Boulevard was home to the best casino complexes in the country.

“It’s not just about building a box, it’s about creating a true world-class entertainment destination,” Lightfoot said in April. “We want to make sure the people we partner with are serious about Chicago and understand the unique opportunities that present themselves here. As I said before, we’re delighted to have sparked the interest of some very serious and accomplished gaming interests in Las Vegas. Everyone come.”

But no one from Las Vegas came.

In August, when the deadline for casino proposals was extended from August 23 to October 29, analysts concluded that the 40 percent tax rate was too high for businesses. Some also said there was a higher level of competition to face in the Chicago suburbs.

The proposed casino is part of a major gaming expansion that Governor JB Pritzker signed in 2019.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month that state regulators had already cut the number of casino proposals in the southern suburbs of Chicago to two, one near the Homewood-East Hazel border. Crest and the other in Matteson. The final selection for this license will take place next year.

The Rockford and Williamson County casino proposals received initial approval. There will also be one in Danville.

State regulators are also considering two finalists for a new casino license in the Chicago suburb of Waukegan.

Brendan Bussmann, director of government affairs for Las Vegas-based Global Market Advisors, said he was eager to see details of the proposals.

“I look forward to diving into these proposals once they go public to see if they meet the original vision that was part of the 2019 legislation,” Bussmann said. “I hope Chicago can still get that out of an initial development of the proposals submitted today.

“One lesson to be learned from this exercise is that tax rates are important,” he said. “This has a direct relationship to the level of investment required to match the desired components for this RI opportunity. Asking too much sometimes leaves capital on the table that could have generated more economic impact and tax revenue.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at [email protected] or 702-477-3893. To follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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