Chicago’s city officials move the deadline for submitting a proposal for the planned casino to October 29, looking for more bidders.
Chicago Officials Extend Proposal Deadline for a Planned Casino
On Friday afternoon, Chicago officials announced the deadline for proposal submission for the planned casino in the city was extended by over nine weeks to October 29, 2 PM CT. The initial date proposed by the city officials in April was August 23, around two weeks from now. Crain’s Chicago Business reported that it is possible to have a proposal from only one company since MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts, two gaming companies that requested information last year, publicly stated that they would pass on the opportunity.
According to Crain, operators have expressed interest but need more time. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the extra time would allow them to consider bidding. She said they could also secure financing for possible billion-dollar development as officials aim to build it close to the downtown area.
Chicago officials would also allow one more question-and-answer period, with new questions about the solicitation. It would be due to the city on October 1, by 5 PM CT.
Lightfoot stated, “I look forward to seeing these bids roll in and working very closely with whichever team is ultimately chosen to develop Chicago’s first-ever casino.” She also said that the extended deadline would allow the city to collect as much impactful and transformative proposals from bidders as possible.
Tax Rate Revenues Could Be the Biggest Challenges
The project could be economically beneficial for the city, giving it a world-class casino resort, attracting tourists from all over the world. The casino project could lower unemployment rates and provide jobs for people from minority groups.
Revenue tax rates could turn out to be the biggest challenge for Chicago’s casino project. In 2019, when the granting license law was passed, the state established an effective tax rate of 72%. However, Lightfoot and lawmakers in Springfield worked hard to lower the tax rate to around 40%.
Preferably the city would like the bidding finalist to build the casino in one phase, including the 500-room hotel with the casino. The main goal is to have it open by 2025. However, there could be a temporary venue that could open sooner upon the state issuing the license.
By early 2022, Chicago could know the bidding finalist
The new extension will cause a delay in the process of selection. The public presentation would start in late September and Chicago officials will point one or more bidders as finalists in the fall.
The final applicant, to be approved by the Chicago City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board, would be selected at the beginning of 2022.
Bidders also have the option to submit a proposal to operate slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports.
Officials May Pause the Process If Rush Street Is the Only Bidder
Rush Street Gaming could be one of the possible bidders for the casino. The local-based company, led by Chairman Neil Bluhm, operates Rivers Casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Des Plaines, IL, and Schenectady, New York. The Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, a Chicago suburb near O’Hare International Airport, is currently the largest in Illinois.
However, if Rush Street is the only bidder for the casino license, the officials may pause the bidding process due to the company’s local connections. According to the Illinois State Board of Elections, Bluhm‘s daughters contributed $212,500 to Lightfoot’s mayoral campaign in 2019.
When the city released its request for proposals (RFP), Lightfoot said that she hopes for an open and transparent review process and that the project draws more interest from major Las Vegas operators. However, the only Las Vegas operators who responded with a request for information (RFI) were MGM and Wynn, along with Rush Street and Hard Rock International. The RFI submission is not a prerequisite to respond to the RFP.