Despite repeated discussions for years for bringing casino gambling to Chicago, there has been little development in that area until of late.
On Wednesday five probable sites were listed by the city mayor, Lori Lightfoot as an initial step towards the fulfilment of the casino proposal. The 5 locations are - Pershing Road and State Street; Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue; Harborside at 111th and Bishop Ford Freeway; the former U.S. Steel parcel at 8th and Lake Shore Drive and the former Michael Reese hospital at 31st and Cottage Grove.
The five locations are all positioned in the west and south sides of the city. That Mayor Lightfoot didn’t include Navy Pier and McCormick Place East also known as Lakeside Center came as a surprise to many. This is because both sites were earlier regarded as likely locations for Chicago’s first of its kind Las Vegas-style casino.
It’s important to note that downtown Chicago is not the location of any of the projected sites. It was earlier discussed that the gambling site should be somewhere in the central part of Chicago.
During his campaign, Gov. Pritzker had expressed his support for development of state based gambling and has now articulated his choice of a casino away from the heart of Chicago. McCormick Place is also not one of his especially favorite sites.
It will definitely take some time in selecting a complete location, so it’s difficult to predict when Chicago will have its first casino. A consultant engaged by the Illinois Gaming Board will now be scrutinizing the financial viability of each of the five sites shortlisted by Mayor Lightfoot.
Las Vegas based consulting firm, Union Gaming Analytics has been chosen to gauge the casino venues that have been considered. The estimated financial effect for each of the 5 sites will have to be covered under the feasibility report. The winner in the casino site race will however, not be selected by Union Gaming.
It is expected the gambling site will be a profit earning venture that will feed the “serious lack of pension funds” and create lucrative prospects and new employment for communities all over the city.
Officials of the city have stated they will welcome feedback from the host community before announcing the casino site.
Alderman Sophia King found the proposed addition of a casino site at the former Michael Reese Hospital “disgusting and outrageous”, following the announcement of the potential listed sites on Wednesday.
She further stated that the community concerned is obstinately against a casino as “casinos are notorious for having a damaging effect on existing communities, particularly colored ones.”