Bally’s casino in Chicago continues to underperform

Bally’s casino in Chicago continues to underperform

Illinois leaders keep hoping for big wins from casinos and other gambling, but the newest casino in Chicago shows expectations are too high again.

When Bally’s Casino opened September 2023, expectations from owners, lawmakers and Illinoisans were high – nearly $3 million per month was expected to flow into Chicago’s coffers.

But Bally’s is not coming close to meeting the original expectations.

In 2023, former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot projected Bally’s temporary location in the River North neighborhood at the Medinah Temple would generate nearly $12.8 million in four months in tax revenue for the city’s police and firefighter pensions. Bally’s came about $9.6 million short, earning only $3.1 million of the expected $12.8 million.

It’s been the same in 2024. At the start of the year, it was expected Bally’s would generate $2.92 million a month in local tax revenue. March 2024 was Bally’s best month of the year, but local tax revenue was only $1.13 million.

Local taxes are not the only measure for which Bally’s is falling short. When comparing their average revenue per person admitted, they fall severely behind competitor Rivers Casino in Des Plaines.

On average, Rivers’ revenue per person admitted is $173.30 so far this year while Bally’s lags at $96.19. While this may mean more money stays in the pockets of Bally’s visitors, it also means less tax revenue going to the pensions of Chicago police and firefighters as well as less state and local tax revenue.

Since 2019, six new casinos have opened in Illinois. Bally’s in Chicago was supposed to be a sure bet, but state and local leaders regularly expand gaming with a gambler’s optimism only to find day-after regrets – casino revenue was down $200 million between 2012 and 2022 as gambling expanded.

Maybe Illinois politicians should call 1-800-GAMBLER to shake the addiction.

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