The city of Chicago plans to award a contract to build a casino resort with an opening date in 2025 by early next year.
On Thursday, officials will publish a “call for proposals” with a deadline of 23 August.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hoped Las Vegas-based casino resort companies would consider submitting proposals for consideration.
“It’s not just about building a box, it’s a real world-class entertainment destination,” Lightfoot said in a virtual press conference. “We want to make sure our partners take Chicago seriously and understand the unique opportunities it offers. As I said earlier, we are delighted that we have drawn the interest of very serious and accomplished gaming interests from Las Vegas. If one comes, everyone comes. “
The city issues a casino license. This license would not only allow the construction of a resort in a location specified by the winner, it would also allow the contractor to install gaming machines at the city’s two major airports, O’Hare International and Midway International.
The call for proposals, which is posted on the city’s website at chicago.gov/chicagocasino, contains several other guidelines for applicants to consider:
■ Required elements include a casino resort with 500 or fewer rooms, meeting rooms, restaurants, bars, entertainment and other amenities.
■ It must create well-paying jobs and new employment opportunities, as well as teaching and training programs for the residents of Chicago.
■ Encourage the use and involvement of Chicago-based businesses, including those owned by minorities, women, veterans, and people with disabilities. The project will involve hiring 26 percent of minority businesses, 6 percent of women’s businesses, and Chicago-based businesses to design and build the project. Officials said this does not mean that a Las Vegas company cannot partner with a Las Vegas partner on design and architecture.
■ It must generate game tax revenue for the city dedicated to the city’s police and fire pension obligations. The city has announced an effective gaming tax rate of around 40 percent in the casino. By comparison, the Nevada gambling tax rate is 6.75 percent.
■ It must integrate seamlessly with the existing landscape and communities in Chicago and offer a high quality, architecturally significant design. The building must meet development standards for energy and environmental design.
■ The casino resort must also catalyze the additional economic development in the city and offer a first-class standard of service.
The city allows the license holder to operate a temporary casino for up to 24 months, subject to an extension of 12 months, to generate revenue before the closed resort opens.
Under the Illinois Gambling Act, which was approved by state law last year, the winner can operate gaming machines at O’Hare and Midway airports. However, the number of slot machines between the two airports and the new resort is limited to 4,000 in total.
McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is one of two airports – the other is Reno-Tahoe International Airport – that have slot machines installed for passengers to play while waiting for flights.
McCarran has approximately 1,400 slot machines operated by Michael Gaughan’s Airport Slot Concession Inc.
In its best year, fiscal year 2019, the airport slot machine concession generated $ 37.4 million in gaming revenue.
According to Lightfoot, Chicago is the largest metropolitan area without a casino resort. The resorts are located in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Cleveland, Detroit and the suburb of Washington, DC
She said the Chicago Casino project is one of the most attractive development opportunities in the country as the metropolitan area has a population of about 9.5 million and Chicago attracted 60 million domestic visitors and 1.5 million international visitors in 2019.
She expects the future gaming operator to be able to integrate its property into the city’s cultural scene, the local public transport infrastructure and the diversified economy.
A decision has not yet been made as to where the casino resort will be built. Lightfoot would not disclose their preference for a website and would like to hear what the RFP respondents have to say. Potential locations include the Lake Michigan boardwalk, near Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play, and near McCormick Place, the largest convention center in North America.
“The goal is to place it in a location that takes advantage of the infrastructure, transportation, and other amenities in the area, as well as a location that attracts tourists,” said Lightfoot. “I don’t have to tell these people how to do their business. They were in town, doing their due diligence. We’re just excited to see what their vision is to make Chicago a premier gaming destination. “
Since the beginning of March, when the RFP process was first announced, analysts have pondered which casino companies might be interested in submitting a proposal. The list begins with three casino companies that were among Chicago’s requests for information to help determine the contents of the RFP. These included MGM Resorts International, based in Las Vegas, and Wynn Resorts Ltd. The third was the Hard Rock International of the Seminole Tribe in Florida.
Chicago’s Rush Street in the mix
Other companies that may be interested in the tender include Boyd Gaming Corp. based in Las Vegas and Las Vegas Sands Corp .; fast-growing Bally’s Corp., which recently announced it would buy Tropicana in Las Vegas; Malaysia’s Genting Group, which will open Resorts World Las Vegas on June 24; Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, which operates the casino at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas; Tilman Fertittas Landry’s Inc., which owns a chain of Golden Nugget casinos nationwide, and Hometown Chicago’s favorite Rush Street Gaming.
Lightfoot insisted that Rush Street “has no home advantage” when it comes to deciding who will get the contract.
A company analyst says one company that is unlikely to make a proposal is Caesars Entertainment Inc., which operates nearby casinos in Indiana and Illinois and is under regulatory scrutiny for antitrust concerns.
The review journal is owned by the family of Sheldon Adelson, the late chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp.