Casino News

Bally’s Faces Dual Investigations Over Chicago Casino License Acquisition

Bally’s, the Rhode Island-based gambling company, finds itself in the crosshairs of federal and local authorities over the acquisition of the highly sought-after Chicago casino license. The processes leading to Bally’s securing the license have triggered simultaneous investigations by both the US attorney’s office and Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg.

Unsuccessful Bidders Trigger Federal Inquiry into Chicago Casino License The federal inquiry, reportedly prompted by complaints from unsuccessful bidders in the casino licensing process, has thrust the matter into the spotlight, reported real estate news outlet The Real Deal.

Alderman Brian Hopkins, known for his consistent criticism of former Mayor Lori Lightfoot‘s management of the casino proceedings, confirmed the existence of the federal investigation. The US attorney’s office, however, has remained tight-lipped on the matter.

Concurrently, Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg is conducting a parallel investigation, adhering to her office’s policy of not commenting on ongoing inquiries.

Bally’s maintains that it is unaware of any investigation, and the city’s Law Department has clarified that neither they nor the mayor’s office have been subpoenaed or requested to provide information.

The investigations, according to sources, were initiated months ago, suggesting a prolonged and comprehensive examination of the casino licensing process.

This development follows earlier controversies surrounding Bally’s, including alterations to financial deals with minority investors and discrepancies in fees charged to different bidders. Reports also highlighted potential conflicts of interest with city consultants evaluating financial prospects.

City Council Greenlighted Bally’s Casino Amidst Controversies and High Hopes Despite these controversies, Bally’s secured City Council approval with a decisive 39-5 vote. The $1.7 billion project is anticipated to alleviate the city’s unfunded public employee pension liabilities. Bally’s opened a temporary casino in September at the former Medinah Temple, with construction on the permanent site expected to commence soon, aiming for an opening in late 2026.

The casino project, viewed by some city leaders as a potential financial savior, has been on Chicago’s agenda for decades, gaining serious traction only in 2020.

Representing the area designated for the casino, 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett praised the accomplishment, expressing that it was significant. He remarked that it had been a pursuit spanning three administrations and emphasized that the current mayor had successfully achieved it.

At the same time, the opening of Bally’s casino in Chicago stirred concerns among addiction treatment experts who anticipate a rise in individuals seeking help for gambling disorders. Although there hasn’t been an immediate surge in cases, experts warn that the expansion of gaming facilities historically correlates with an increase in people seeking treatment for gambling problems.

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