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US – Chicago launches tender for city’s first casino-resort

By - 23 April 2021

The City of Chicago officially issued a Request for Proposal for the opportunity to apply for the sole casino license in the country’s third-largest metropolitan market. The selected partner will be able to propose its optimal site for the project, pending the approval by the City. Chicago aims to welcome the new casino-resort by 2025.

“After years of planning, we are beyond excited to begin the RFP process for Chicago’s first casino,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “We look forward to collaborating with world-class operators to develop a premier entertainment destination that will catalyze growth in our dynamic economy, create sustainable, good-paying jobs for our workforce and bring new financial opportunities to our businesses.”

The Chicago casino project currently is one of the country’s most attractive casino-resort development opportunities. A global gateway city with 9.5 million residents, Chicago welcomed 60 million domestic and 1.5 million international visitors in 2019. The potential gaming operator will be able to incorporate its property into the City’s vibrant cultural scene, robust public transit infrastructure and highly diversified economy. Additionally, a significantly lower tax rate was made available to a potential operator due to the passing of Public Act 101-648.

The holder of the Chicago owner’s license can operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months (subject to a 12-month extension) and, thereafter, a permanent casino located in the City. In addition to a casino, the gaming enterprise also will have the opportunity to operate slot machines at Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). All applicants selected through the RFP process then must apply to the state for the owner’s license and meet the state’s licensing requirements.

The City is seeking an entertainment and gaming destination to enhance the urban fabric of the surrounding neighborhood. Required elements include a casino-resort with 500 rooms or less, meeting space, restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and more. The RFP’s core project goals include the following elements.

The casino must create well-paying jobs and new employment opportunities, as well as plentiful apprenticeships and training programs for Chicago’s residents. It must support utilization and participation of Chicago-based businesses, including those owned by minorities, women, veterans and those with disabilities. It will have to generate gaming tax revenues for the City, which will be dedicated to the City’s police and fire pension obligations. It will need to integrate seamlessly into Chicago’s existing landscape and communities and offer a high-quality, architecturally significant design, which will catalyze additional economic development in the City.

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