In May, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot considered Bally’s Corporation to be the most suitable operator for the upcoming $1.7-billion casino in the city. The news came after the mayor originally denied reports that the corporation had won the battle against Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming. Not all residents took the news of a new casino popping in the city lightly.
North River Residents Are Using Their Voice
Residents of the art and design-focused River North district have expressed a series of demands in light of the events. The River North Residents Association, a volunteer neighborhood advocacy group aimed at improving the quality of life in the district is looking to have a series of demands and recommendations met. Among them, a few infrastructure projects strengthened security, and support for gambling addiction treatment venues in the region.
A Long Wish List
The River North Residents Association focuses on promoting the responsible development of real estate in the area while harnessing a safe and healthy neighborhood and advocating for continuous improvements in terms of amenities and infrastructure. Accordingly, their list of demands that was spread into eight different categories included a series of important infrastructure projects.
Among them is the Jefferson Street extension which would help relieve the congestion on Halsted Street via Grand Avenue. Another important project is aimed at building exit and entrance ramps that would bring together Bally’s River West casino and the Ohio-Ontario feeder. The ramps would be used to prevent an “enormous volume” of casino traffic from becoming a problem for surface streets.
Another important item is a proposal to have the current outdoor music venue replaced with a public park. Also, the group is demanding for all outdoor activities to conclude at 9 p.m. on regular days of the week and at 11 p.m. on the weekends. Bally’s casino should also organize all future concerts behind closed doors, with a maximum of 15 events per month.
Nonstop Security Patrols
River North residents would also like to see security guards patrolling the area spreading across four blocks in each direction from the Chicago and Halsted and the Medinah Temple locations of the two upcoming casinos. The security patrols should focus on both the casino and the neighboring community, in the context of the potentially higher risk of crimes brought in by the casino. The area has already been confronted with a number of robberies, carjacking, and assault cases in the past months. The group believes that by having a “parade of casino customers” visiting the casino in the future, these security risks would grow exponentially.
River North residents also recommend a 2% annual city revenue tax from all casino operations. The money would reach problem gaming support and treatment facilities in the area aimed at gambling addicts.
The group’s president Brian Israel is hoping for “pretty broad support” for most of the recommendations. It remains to be seen how many of these demands will be met prior to the mayor and city council elections in 2023.