Bally’s Medinah Temple in Chicago Shows Opening Month Promise

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In a bustling month since its opening, Bally’s temporary casino at Medinah Temple in Chicago made nearly $7 million in revenue in just three weeks.

The latest of the 16 Illinois casino venues, situated at 600 N. Wabash Ave., is anticipated to operate until 2026, while the operator builds a huge, $1.75 billion permanent Bally’s Chicago casino at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

The temporary venue, which features 800 slot machines and 56 table games, generated about $4.3 million and $2.4 million, respectively, from these offerings. The $6.7 million monthly profit positioned Bally’s eighth among the state’s casinos for September, despite being open for six less days than its competitors over that time.

Navigating Expectation and Projections

Rivers Casino in Des Plaines took in the most revenue of all Illinois casinos in September at $41.5 million. It was the only casino to beat out Bally’s Chicago in terms of visitor numbers, with 260,000 for the month, compared to second place Bally’s with 80,000.

The promising visitor numbers and revenue figures also come despite a shooting that occurred just a block from the Medinah Temple venue the day after it opened doors.

That incident illustrates one of the roles casino revenues have in the city’s budget, set earlier this year by former Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The budget plans to use the casino’s tax revenues to fund the shortfall in funding for police and firefighter pensions, with the widely documented issues discouraging new recruits.

Bally’s, which also manages a casino in Rock Island, has already contributed almost $1.6 million in taxes from its new Chicago operation, translating to approximately $695,000 in city tax revenue.

Those funds are designated for its underfunded police and firefighter pensions. That left $868,000 for the state, which will be allocated toward Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45 billion capital infrastructure plan.

However, to meet the ambitious revenue estimates, Medinah Temple will need to significantly boost its performance in the upcoming three months. Lightfoot’s midyear budget forecast, issued shortly before her departure from office, relied on $12.8 million in city casino tax revenue by the end of 2023. Bally’s previously made a $40 million upfront payment to the city.

Without regulated Illinois online casinos to add to the pie, the city is pinning a lot on Bally’s new casino venture to perform.

A Longer Journey

At the casino’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting, Mayor Brandon Johnson expressed confidence in Bally’s ability to meet its long-term projections. That includes the $50 million in annual tax revenue from Medinah, and $200 million per year from the permanent site after 2026.

“We’re here to keep our promises to our community,” Bally’s chairman Kim Soo said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony last month.

“It’s just the first step of the longer journey, to build the whole [permanent] casino.”

The initial success of Bally’s temporary casino at Medinah Temple signals its potential, with its prominent downtown location and impressive building offering something new to locals.

However, the oncoming and usually chilly Chicago winter might dampen enthusiasm in the coming months. Or maybe the Windy City’s gambling fans will continue to show out to enthusiastically support its first casino. Whatever happens, many parties will be watching with interest.

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