Bally’s Traffic Study for Temp Casino Skewered by Chicago Alderman

Posted on: October 5, 2022, 04:20h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 05:11h.

Chicago Alderman Brendan Reilly is blasting a traffic study paid for by Bally’s Corp., claiming the survey doesn’t account for rising crime in the neighborhood where a temporary casino would be staged.

The Ballys examination paves the way for the gaming company to open its temporary casino in the River North neighborhood.

Bally's Chicago
Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly in a 2015 interview. He’s blasting a traffic study for Bally’s temporary casino. (Image: ABC7 Chicago)

If the plan remains in place, the temporary casino will be housed at Medinah Temple — a venue controlled by Friedman Properties. In true Chicago political fashion, Albert Friedman is a donor to Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D). In fact, he allocated $6,000 to her campaign in March on the very day she pared the list of casino bidders from five to three, according to CBS Chicago.

Locals took issue with Lightfoot’s Medinah Temple selection, claiming it focuses too much on traffic, or lack thereof, the temporary casino will create, not soaring crime in the area.

I fundamentally disagree with the assumptions made by the traffic consultant — from vastly low-balling the number of vehicular trips to the casino and vastly overestimating the number of people who will be dumb enough to take the CTA or walk to this casino with cash in their pockets,” said Reilly in a statement.

He’s referring to claims in the Bally’s-commissioned study that 40% of visitors to the temporary casino will bike, walk, or use public transportation. The report also stated that a majority of employees will use those means to get to the venue. Among major US cities, Chicago is home to some of the worst crime statistics, indicating the alderman has a point about the low probability of folks biking or walking to a casino.

For the 28 days ending Oct. 2, crime complaints in Chicago jumped 41% year-over-year — a figure that includes 59 murders and 168 sexual assaults, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Bally’s Chicago History

In May, Lightfoot selected Bally’s as the winning bidder in the Chicago casino competition. The Rhode Island-based gaming company is planning to build a $1.7 billion integrated resort – the city’s first — northwest of the city’s Loop downtown district.

While some view the project — the largest to date for Bally’s — as a coup for the operator, it’s worth noting that larger, more visible gaming companies didn’t participate in the process because of Chicago’s burdensome fee and tax structure.

The casino is viewed as a jobs and revenue generator for the third-largest US city. By some estimates, Chicago residents spend $331 million annually at Indiana casinos, and the Bally’s venue could help the city retain $190 million of that sum. That’s meaningful to the city and Illinois, which is the most financially imperiled large state in the country.

Reilly Rails Against Study

In addition to the crime concerns, Reilly notes Lightfoot’s office sat on results of the traffic study for two weeks before sharing the data with him.

Calling the report “thin gruel” and noting it lacks credibility, the alderman also points out it doesn’t including data on loading dock delivery.

“The report also makes no attempt to evaluate vendor deliveries. Evaluation of delivery and service loading docks are important to any new development or use — a standard section in every traffic study I’ve ever looked at,” he said in his statement. “Even ‘ancillary’ restaurant and bar areas need to be delivered product. The ingress and egress calculations are missing from this report.”

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