Mayor extended the deadline for bids on a Chicago casino

Could we finally see a major casino make its way to downtown Chicago? That’s what countless folks all over Illinois are hoping for, as multiple bidders are trying to make something happen in the near future. The good news is that the Mayor extended the deadline for bids on a Chicago casino, opening the door for people to have a little more time to get the ball rolling.

Originally, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the local officials had put a deadline in place that was set to end on Aug. 23. However, it was revealed earlier this month that the date on that has now been moved back to Oct. 29. That gives folks interested in making Chicago history more than two months to get back to the drawing board in terms of coming up with strong ideas.

“This extension gives potential bidders more time to fully assess the Chicago casino opportunity; conduct additional due diligence; assemble more competitive bid packages; and explore financing opportunities,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a press release when announcing that the Aug. 23 deadline would no longer be in place for bidders.

As you might have been able to guess, this decision by Lightfoot has been welcomed with open arms. The citizens of Chicago are hoping for a casino to make its way to the downtown area. This would of course draw plenty of visitors and make life easy for those who want to get out and gamble. Now, we must wait and see which bids end up coming in.

There are no casinos located in the downtown Chicago area

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, there are no casinos located in the downtown Chicago area, which is why this latest announcement from Lightfoot has so much meaning. People have been waiting for so long for casino access to essentially be at their fingertips. Currently, there are 10 operating casinos throughout the state, but none in the downtown region.

The closest one would be the Rivers casino, which is located by the O’Hare Airport. Imagine living in Chicago, in the heart of the area, and then have to commute outside of O’Hare to try and play some games. At the same time, folks also make their way over to Indiana to try and get some gambling done. This is also not great.

The city would bring in so many tourists and see an economic boom if a casino was brought into the downtown area. The local businesses as a whole would see great returns on a casino, as folks from outside states would have even more reason to come visit Chicago. With the Bears, Cubs, Bulls, White Sox, and other pro MLB teams in action too, it’d add to the intrigue.

“This casino project stands to expand the economic vibrancy and strength of our city by bringing sustainable, good-paying jobs to residents from underrepresented backgrounds and creating a world-class casino-resort that attracts visitors from all over,” Lightfoot said. “Extending the deadline for  bidders will allow the City to collect as many robust, impactful and transformative proposals as possible.”

Remember that sports betting is already legal in Illinois

While the work is being done for a casino to make its way to downtown Chicago, remember that sports betting is already legal in Illinois, so folks from the area can live a little and make bets that way if they so please. Betting was first made legal for sports back in 2019, with the first sites going live in the state the following year in 2020.

With all of that said, there are only a few casinos in Illinois that have put the framework in place to have sportsbooks there. Currently, folks in Chicago are trying to change that, though, as the hope is for sportsbooks to make their way to the major stadiums across the area. For example, the hope is that Wrigley Field for example could have a sportsbook.

This would be a game-changer, as fans could then place their bets in the middle of a Cubs game. Not only that, the sportsbooks wouldn’t be seasonal. They would be year-round, meaning people could make their way to Wrigley Field, but then just hit the sportsbook and place a bet on an NFL game, an NBA game, March Madness and much more.

Again, similar to the local casino that could be making its way, this would provide a boost for the economy, as it would bring in more jobs for folks and also bring in more visitors. We could see sportsbooks at Soldier Field, the United Center and more as well. This is definitely going to be something to keep an eye on moving forward.

When could a casino open in Chicago?

Residents of course want to know when could a casino open in Chicago? Per Lightfoot, her expectation is that a casino could open its door by 2025. At the same time, this casino would also need to have a resort type of feel, as the city wants the casino to also include at least 500 rooms at a hotel, plus restaurants, bars and more.

With the extra two months of planning, the bidders getting ready to wow Chicago as a whole can come up with these ideas and really try to knock people’s socks off. We’ll see how things play out, but exciting times could be coming for the downtown Chicago area.

Xing Cai

Xing Cai is the son of immigrants living in San Francisco. He fell in love with baseball as a child and studied sports journalism in the California State University system. He currently lives in the Bay Area with his two dogs.