Officials Reveal Details of Five Chicago Casino Proposals Received

Chicago Casino Gambling Background
The office of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot released last Friday details of the five proposals that the city has received for the planned gambling casino in the heart of the city.

In a statement, Mayor Lightfoot said:

“The caliber of the proposals are in line with our vision to develop a world-class experience in Chicago that will drive significant economic growth and employment opportunities for our communities. Each proposal provides a unique vision for what Chicago’s casino-resort would look like, and our expert review committees are ready to dive into discussions to usher in a new and exciting era for our city.”

City officials have estimated that any of the five proposals would bring in roughly $200M in taxes per year once fully operational. In a morning briefing, officials said they are preparing the schedule of briefings and public hearings that will lead to a final vote from the City Council. According to officials, that vote could come as early as March 2022. The winning bidder picked by the City will then be sent to the Illinois Gaming Board for approval.

Bally’s Has Two Bids

Bally’s has two bids one located at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center and another at the McCormick Plack Truck Marshalling. Tre Tribune location is valued at $1.8 billion and is expected to produce a 3,600 gaming positions casino, a 500-room high-rise hotel, and a 3,000 seat, 70,000 square foot entertainment venue. Along with this bid, Bally’s offered an upfront ”incentive payment” of $25M

The second bid is very similar to the first one, although it is slightly smaller in terms of investment amount at $1.6 billion. The McCormick venue is valued at $1.6 billion and Bally’s would make an upfront payment of $50M if awarded.

Both proposals reference allotting some of 4,000 gaming positions allowed to Midway and O’Hare Airports, in consultation with the local government of Chicago.

Two Bids Involving Neil Bluhm

Chicago casino mogul Neil Bluhm is also involved in two bids. The first is the Rivers Chicago at McCormick which is being proposed at the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place. The proposal calls for the rehabilitation of Lakeside Center which would make things faster by doing away with constructing a new structure. This location would have 2,600 slot machines and 190 gaming tables while also renovating the 4,200 seat Arie Crown Theater.

The other one is called Rivers 78 Gaming which proposes a location at the 8-acre riverfront entertainment district at the north end of the mixed-use 78 neighborhood. The project is worth $2 billion and includes a 2,800 position casino with a 300-room hotel, and an anchorage on the South Branch of the Chicago River. Bluhm plans to operate a riverboat casino next to the 78 while the permanent structure is being built.

The final bid is from Hard Rock Chicago which intends to use the ONE Central project site. The $1.7 billion proposal would include a 3,000 position casino, a 500-room high-rise hotel, and an entertainment area that will live up to Hard Rock’s signature music vibe. Had Rock is is pitching for a temporary site at the Lakeside Building Center while the ONE location is still being constructed.

Chicago Receives Five Bids for First Casino Resort Project in the City

Chicago

The city of Chicago has received a total of five bids for the casino-resort project.

According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, her office has received a total of five proposals from four groups to operate the mega-casino that the city has been trying to land for several decades and she is thrilled with this development.

Said Mayor Lightfoot:

“The submission of bid responses represents a major step toward the thoughtful development of a casino resort that uplifts our businesses, employs and empowers our residents, and encourages tourism. We look forward to the next phase of discussions to bring this world-class entertainment experience to our city.”

Bally Submitted Two Proposals

Bally’s Corporation, HR Chicago, Rivers Chicago at McCormick, and Rivers 78 Gaming beat Friday’s deadline to submit the bids. Bally’s submitted two proposals for two different sites: one at the Near North site of the Chicago Tribune publishing center near Chicago Avenue and Halsted, and another at the McCormick Place truck marshaling yards south of the sprawling convention center.

Both proposals by Bally’s call for a $1.6 billion investment and will include a luxury hotel, indoor and outdoor entertainment space, fine dining, and a green space. According to Bally’s, minority investors have a total stake of 25% of the project, with investors including philanthropists, business owners, sports stars, celebrities, and even ordinary Chicagoans.

Neil Bluhm Going All-In

Chicago magnate Neil Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming signaled that it was going all-in on a Chicago casino proposal by withdrawing its application for a casino at Waukegan. Friday’s announcement revealed that Bluhm’s company is spearheading two development groups with names that tip their hand on where they’d like to break ground: Rivers 78 Gaming LLC and Rivers Chicago at McCormick LLC.

Bluhm has long been considered as a shoo-in to get the Chicago casino project because of his successful track record running the state’s most successful gambling property in the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines and his close ties with Mayor Lightfoot. Lightfoot received over $200,000 in campaign contributions from Bluhm’s daughters Leslie and Meredith.

Hard Rock Endorsed by Rick Nielsen

Hard Rock’s bid as HR Chicago LLC was endorsed by legendary Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen. It comes nine months after the company received approval from the Illinois Gaming Board to break ground on a casino project in Rockford and nearly six months after opening a casino in Gary, Indiana which is not even a one-hour drive from the office of the Chicago City Mayor

Hard Rock became controversial after it won the Rockford approval despite the fact that state gambling regulators considered disciplinary action against another corporation owned by one of the lead investors of the project.

Hard Rock Atlantic City Announces Plan to Invest $20M in Renovations

Casino Slot Machines, Hard Rock Atlantic City Logo
Hard Rock Atlantic City announced on Monday plans to spend at least $20M in capital improvements, the bulk of which will be allocated to suite renovations.

In a press release Hard Rock Atlantic City president Joe Lupo said:

“The commitment of these capital dollars from our ownership proves their devotion to enhancing our guest experience, along with the revitalization of Atlantic City and our property which opened after a $500 million renovation less than three years ago. Our growth over the past year during unprecedented circumstances speaks to guests’ trust in our property and enjoyment of their experiences, which we will continue to evolve and improve.”

Another $20M

Hard Rock International acquired the former Trump Taj Mahal from Carl Icahn for just $50M in 2017. The Seminole Tribe of Florida owned casino company then spent over $500M to transform the India-themed Atlantic City casino into a Rock n’ Roll themed gaming resort destination.

Three years later, Hard Rock International will be spending another $20M into its Atlantic City casino property. Aside from the renovation of suites, the company announced plans for the opening of a Starbucks outlet in May, new dining options, and new outdoor beachfront amenities.

Majority to Be Spent on Suite Renovations

However, majority of Hard Rock’s latest investment to its Atlantic City casino will go to the renovation of 66 Celebrity and 25 Roxy suites. Additionally, all standard rooms will be upgraded with flat-screen televisions and LED lighting.

Additional gaming units will be created in the Asian and High Limit areas after a high demand which saw seven consecutive months of gaming revenue growth. The Atlantic City casino will also expand its main casino floor by bringing in additional slot machines and table games.

Other Investments in Atlantic City

Aside from Hard Rock, other Atlantic City casinos are also spending big bucks to upgrade their facilities. The Ocean City Casino recently announced a $15M renovation plan while Caesars Entertainment is looking to add three new restaurants, a new spa, and a renovated lobby bar as part of its $400M pledge to New Jersey gambling regulators. Bally’s is also spending $90M on the Atlantic City casino it acquired from Caesars last year.

2020 was a difficult year for the nine Atlantic City casinos as it was for the entire gambling industry. The pandemic caused operating profits to plunge to as much as 80%. Online gambling and mobile sports betting were able to help them hold the fort. But with the outlook for 2021 optimistic, Atlantic City casino owners are preparing for better economic conditions ahead by investing in their respective properties.

Centre County Casino Project to Have Major Economic Impact

Wheel Of Fortune Slot
Updated projections on the economic impact of the planned Pennsylvania casino at Centre County reveal eye opening figures.

Among the highlights are the first year revenue projection of $91M and more than $100M one year after that. The projections also predict an annual new tax revenue of $60,000 for Centre County plus 500 permanent jobs in College Township, where the casino will operate for at least a decade.

Located At The Former Macy’s Site

The new Pennsylvania casino would be built on the former Macy’s at the Nittany Mall, which is an ideal location because of the ample free parking space on that side of the mall. Construction is expected to begin later this year, with the casino opening being targeted for next year.

As a mini-casino with a Category 4 license, the planned Pennsylvania casino is expected to have 300-750 slot machines. For an extra fee of $2.5M, the licensee can apply to add up to 30 gaming tables, with the option to add another 10 after one year of operations. Sports betting is also an option but at another additional cost of $10M in licensing fees.

$120M Mini-Casino Project

Last January, Bally’s Corporation announced that it had signed and agreement with Penn State alumnus Ira Lubert to jointly design, develop, construct, and manage a $120M mini-casino project in Centre County. Under the deal, Bally’s will acquire a major interest in the partnership, including 100% interest in retail sports betting, online sports betting, and iGaming activities.

If approved, the casino will breathe some life back to the Nittany Mall which has lost several of its top stores in recent years. Macy’s, Sears, JC Penney, and Bon-Ton have all left Centre County and right now, there is only one anchor store left in the mall-Dunham Sports. With these closures, hundreds of jobs in the area have been lost.

Richmond Rejects Bally’s Casino Proposal at Stratford Hills

Richmond Virginia

The city of Richmond has removed Bally’s casino project at the Stratford Hills area from its shortlist of casino development proposals.

After two weeks of public protests against Bally’s, the city announced the decision on Wednesday while also saying that it is still evaluating the two other proposals it has received ahead of a planned November referendum where voters will decide whether to allow a casino resort in the city.

According to the Richmond City Economic Development Department, the proposal of Bally’s was rejected because of concerns about site access, environmental factors, and required approvals from non-city entities that may not be granted or extend the timeline of the project.

Said Leonard Sledge, director of the City Economic Development Department:

“We appreciate Bally’s interest to develop a resort casino project in Richmond. We also appreciate the many Richmond citizens who have shared their thoughts throughout this process.”

Potential Impact of Traffic

Those opposed to Bally’s project to build a Richmond casino claimed among others its potential impact of traffic. Protesters also pointed to environment, public safety, and the graves of enslaved and freed Black people whose descendants still live nearby.

Bally’s tried to offer a solution to the potential traffic congestion at Forest Hill Avenue by changing the road configuration on its primary development plan. The Rhode Island based gambling company offered to build new parkway ramps with access to the property.

Requesting Casino Proposals

The city requested Richmond casino project proposals last December after a new state law legalizing it in Richmond and four other localities – Bristol, Danville, Norfolk, and Portsmouth if the local voters approve it.

Richmond received a total of three proposals. With Bally’s out, the remaining two belong to Washington media conglomerate Urban One and the Cordish Companies which operate the Live! Casino brand. Urban One’s proposal is located at the Philip Morris USA land off Commerce Road while Cordish’s proposal is to build a casino at the 17-acre Movieland Property.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings Purchases Bally’s Brand for $20 Million

Ballys Atlantic City

The US casino industry continues to get shaken up. Today, news broke that Twin River Worldwide Holdings agreed to purchase the renowned Bally’s casino brand from Caesars for $20 million. It’s a huge move for this company and one that will significantly expand Twin River’s portfolio.

Today, we’re going to explain what this means for both Twin River and Caesars. We’ll also look at some of the other big deals made by casino companies this year.

Let’s get into it!

Caesars is Now One of the World’s Biggest Casino Companies

The name Caesars has long-been associated with large, successful casino-resorts. The company has purchased many world-class gaming venues over the years, including ones in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. In 2019, news broke that Eldorado agreed to purchase Caesars Entertainment for an astounding $4.2 billion.

Eldorado Resorts is a large casino company in its own right. The Reno-based gaming operator has worked hard to expand over the years with casinos all over the country. News of this merger spread like wildfire, as it would quickly form the largest casino company in the United States.

Such a large deal took time to complete. Initially, hope was that it would be completed by January of 2020. That timetable was quickly pushed back. Finally, after gaining permission from various state gambling commissions and the SEC, this deal was completed.

This newly-formed merged company kept the “Caesars” name. Interestingly, Caesars has not slowed down its efforts to expand. Not long ago, Caesars announced it was taking over William Hill, one of the biggest and most successful sports betting companies in the world.

It’s clear that Caesars has big plans for the future. That doesn’t mean it’s not interested in making sales to help make up for the cost of some recent purchases. One such sale has just taken place and has taken many by surprise.

Here’s what’s happening with this company.

Bally’s Brand Has Been Taken Over by Twin River Worldwide Holdings

As we’ve already mentioned, many popular US casino companies are working hard to expand right now. This entire casino industry is in a strange place right now. Casino revenue remains lower this year than it was in 2019, yet things seem to be improving in most states.

Back in April, news broke that Twin River Worldwide Holdings purchased Bally’s Atlantic City. This was an important move in getting the Eldorado-Caesars merger complete. Caesars Entertainment needed to sell several of its properties to ensure a monopoly doesn’t form after the merger is complete.

It seems that Twin River enjoyed taking control over this Bally’s property. This week, news broke that this company officially agreed to take over the entire Bally’s casino brand for $20 million. Twin River can now use the name to rebrand all of its properties.

Twin River Worldwide is owned by Soo Kim, who’s been focused on expanding in the US for years now. He spoke about this latest move to the media this week.

“This is an opportunity for us to revive a brand that is synonymous with American gaming,” Kim said. “We appreciate Caesars giving us a chance to use a brand they really weren’t utilizing.”

This is undoubtedly a good move for Twin River and should help the company reach more players. The Bally’s brand is well-known amongst casino gamblers. Soon, all of Twin River’s properties will be utilizing this brand name.

Casino Revenue in the US Continues to Rise and Fall

Casino companies have been in a very unusual position this year. For months, all casinos around the United States were completely shut down. Most states started allowing their casinos to reopen in early summer.

Revenue earnings from this industry have been different around the country. In Nevada, casinos are still earning considerably less than they made in 2019. Fortunately, revenue reports have been coming out that show earnings are slowly increasing each month.

In Colorado, the state’s casino industry is thriving. This state’s casino revenue has been increasing since reopening a few months ago. Sports betting revenue has also been increasing here over the past couple of months.

Every state’s casino industry is performing differently. It seems that many casino companies see this as an opportunity, though. That seems to be the case with Twin River Worldwide Holdings, set to expand its newly-acquired Bally’s brand.

We’ll probably see more of these brand sales take place over the next few months. Stay tuned for updates!

Are you surprised to hear that Caesars sold its Bally’s brand? Will this help Twin River to expand in the future? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bally’s Las Vegas Will Reopen July 23 Amid Customer Demand

Bally's Hotel-Casino in Las VegasOn Thursday, Caesars Entertainment announced the next of its properties that will be opening: Bally’s Las Vegas, set to reopen on July 23 at 10 a.m.

So far, Caesars Entertainment has reopened the following Las Vegas properties: Caesars Palace, The Flamingo, Harrah’s, Linq Promenade, and Paris Las Vegas.

The announcement comes as the Las Vegas Strip has been seeing an increased demand in customer interest and visitation. Officially shuttered for 127 days, Bally’s will officially get to join the rest of the Caesars pack in welcoming long-forgone guests.

“We continue to see solid customer interest in visiting Las Vegas this summer and, as a result, we are pleased to announce the reopening of Bally’s Las Vegas – gaming, hotel, restaurants, and other amenities – on July 23rd,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment said.

Rodio explained that instead of increasing the hotel occupancy at the other properties that have already reopened, it’s in the interest of public health to open up another property instead. Currently, reopened casinos are operating at 50 percent capacity.

According to the resort owner, when the casino-hotel opens later this month, it’s expected to have nearly all of its amenities available, including the Blu Pool and the Bally’s Food Court.

The recently opened Indigo Lounge is also expected to be open by then. The lounge overlooks the casino floor, but with Governor Sisolak’s Thursday announcement that bars will return to Phase One restrictions, it’s unsure whether it will be serving patrons unless food is part of the equation.

Las Vegas Tourists Seem Unfazed by Rise of COVID-19 Cases Among Hospitality Workers

COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the country, and casinos are not exempt.

So far, there have been at least 10 Strip casino workers that have tested positive for coronavirus: One worker at Bellagio, two Flamingo workers, a worker at The Linq, three workers at Sahara Las Vegas, two at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, and one at Caesars Palace.

But while these growing number of cases on the Las Vegas Strip may seem startling, Las Vegas travelers seem undeterred.

A handful of tourists who came for Fourth of July weekend even said they were aware of the number of growing cases of Las Vegas hospitality workers catching the virus, but that it didn’t put a dent in their travel plans.

Stay Tuned

It’s good to see that casinos are still continuing to open in Las Vegas, despite the increase of COVID-19 cases.

It was rumored this week that casinos might be shut down for 7-10 days, but thankfully that wasn’t the case in Gov. Sisolak’s address.

For now, it’s bars across the Silver State that have scaled back to their preexisting coronavirus restrictions. That means no patrons congregating in bars, bar areas, or having bars in restaurants opened for now.

Nevada piggybacked off similar restrictions made in Texas and California last week, and it seems like the rest of the country is following suit.

Are you excited for Bally’s to reopen? Have you made a trip to Las Vegas yet or are you a local who’s excited that some things are beginning to resemble “normal” Vegas? Share with us in the comments below!

And be sure to check back for more coronavirus updates in Las Vegas.

Bally’s Atlantic City is Purchased by Twin River Holdings

All of the casinos in Atlantic City are still shut down. That doesn’t mean ownership of these venues can’t change hands, though. New reports indicate Twin River Holdings has officially purchased Bally’s Atlantic City for $25 million.

Ballys Atlantic City

It’s not a huge surprise. The previous owners are selling property to make way for a massive deal. Today, we’re going to look at the details of this major casino sale.

Let’s get into it!

Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment Continue Merger Plans

As most are well aware of, Eldorado Resorts decided to purchase Caesars Entertainment back in June of 2019 for an incredible $17 billion. It was the largest merger between two casino companies in history. Of course, a deal of this magnitude takes time to complete.

Before these companies can join, they must be given the green light from regulatory bodies around the US. That’s exactly what’s happening right now. Both companies are working to gain government approval to push the deal forward.

Early this year, three major state gambling commissions approved this deal. For a time, it looked like this merger would be approved before the end of the year. Unfortunately, things have slowed down over the past few weeks.

The spread of the coronavirus has shut down the entire US casino industry. As a result, many major casino companies are now losing millions of dollars every single month. This has taken a toll on both Eldorado Resorts and Caesars Entertainment.

These companies are now doing everything they can to continue their plans. Caesars is working to sell properties to gain additional revenue and appease state gambling commissions. New reports claim Caesars just sold one of its biggest and most profitable gambling venues.

Caesars Entertainment Officially Sells Bally’s Atlantic City

Atlantic City is now home to many world-class gambling venues. Prior to the global pandemic, this New Jersey city was earning an incredible amount of revenue from its gambling industry. That’s now changed and all the casinos here are now closed to the public.

Many of the biggest casino companies in the country now operate gambling venues in Atlantic City. This includes Caesars Entertainment. Last week, however, news surfaced that Caesars had officially sold Bally’s Atlantic City to Twin River Holdings.

This is a major deal for Twin River, which paid $25 million for this gambling venue. 2020 has been a big year for this company, which recently acquired three new casino-resorts in Colorado. Most analysts claim this is the biggest casino acquisition for this company to date.

Soo Kim, chairman of the company’s board of directors, commented on this new deal to the media this week.

“This is a great deal for Twin River, and diversifies our business across eight states,” Kim said. “It reaffirms our commitment to employees, customers and the communities in which we operate that Twin River will be stronger than ever.”

Interestingly, Caesar’s will retain certain parts of this venue. That includes the casino’s sportsbook. Hope is that the sale of this casino allows the New Jersey gambling commission to approve the merger between Caesars and Eldorado Resorts.

New Jersey is Still Weeks Away From Reopening

The new coronavirus has taken a serious toll on the entire US economy. One of the hardest-hit industries is the land-based casino industry. As we mentioned earlier, all casinos across the country are closed to the public.

Places like Atlantic City are being hit particularly hard. Officials here have continued to ask Governor Phil Murphy for a timetable on when gambling venues will be allowed to open again. It seems this is unlikely to happen for at least the next few weeks.

New Jersey has one of the highest Covid-19 death rates in the country. Obviously, things will not be able to become normal here overnight. Governor Murphy recently spoke about the situation to the media and claims it may be some time before the state opens again.

“I think the best understanding of the data right now is that we are still a number of weeks away,” he said. “We’re not of the woods yet. The mandate to stay at home and stay away from each other is still very much in effect until we can break the back of this curve.”

How exactly this will affect casinos like Bally’s Atlantic City is still unknown. The federal government is working on ways to help casino operators. Unfortunately, even major payouts may not be enough for some of these venues to remain open.

It’s a very unusual time for the US gambling industry. Stay tuned for more Atlantic City casino news over the next few weeks!