First Chicago Casino Resort Gets Closer to Reality

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CHICAGO – In early April, the City of Chicago expects to issue its Request for Proposal (RFP) for the introduction of a world-class casino-resort to the City’s landscape. An initiative decades in the making, Chicago’s sole gaming owner’s license will introduce a new entertainment destination to the heart of one of America’s most dynamic cities. 

The single gaming license presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for gaming operators given Chicago’s unique attributes: 

  • Third largest metropolitan area in the country, largest in the Midwest, with over 9.5 million residents 

  • Global gateway and leading hub for domestic and international travel that welcomed 60 million domestic and 1.5 million international visitors in 2019 

  • More than three million working-age adults within a 50-minute commute to downtown Chicago 

  • Highly diversified economy with 400+ major corporate headquarters, offices, and facilities 

  • Vast scale and connectivity that provide an immense market to the gaming complex 

  • A robust public transit infrastructure unmatched in the broader Midwest region 

  • Vibrant and renowned cultural and restaurant scene that paves the way for gaming and broader development in a world-class city 

“Chicago is ready to become the home of a major casino-resort which will enhance our thriving entertainment and cultural scene,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. “We’re excited to head into discussions with companies and partners who will help us develop the premier gaming and entertainment destination in our city and drive our economy in a transparent and equitable way.” 

The City’s new casino-resort will be seamlessly integrated into its landscape, playing a crucial role in creating new employment opportunities for residents and driving economic growth for local businesses and the City overall. A catalyst to generate new revenue and boost Chicago’s booming tourism industry, the project also will be able to leverage major developments coming to Chicago O’Hare International Airport in 2028.  

Grant Govertsen, principal, Union Gaming said, “The single Chicago license is among the best casino-resort development opportunities right now. COVID-19 casino shutdowns, financings to bolster balance sheets, and industry teams putting development plans on ice resulted in the Chicago casino opportunity largely flying under the radar last year. Now, the combination of available capital and attractive Chicago market metrics make the opportunity prime for a Las Vegas-style integrated resort.” 

The new casino operator will be allotted opportunities both in gaming and hospitality, with the option to launch a fully integrated resort with amenities ranging from a hotel tower, restaurants, and spa facilities to parking structures and entertainment venues. The license holder can own and operate a temporary casino for up to 36 months, and a permanent casino thereafter. 

Making the license opportunity even more attractive, in May 2020 Illinois legislature passed Public Act 101-06481, which provides a significantly lower tax rate for the possible casino owner, making the project more financially feasible for an operator. 

The official timeline of the RFP will be announced in the coming weeks. Representatives for companies that are interested in receiving the RFP are welcome to reach out to chicagocasino@cityofchicago.org for more information.  

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