Bally’s, with an eye on hitting the ground running should its proposed $1.7 billion casino in downtown Chicago be deemed “preliminary suitable” by the Illinois Gaming Board, published multiple job postings for the 700 positions needed for its temporary casino on its website Wednesday.
The IGB is still reviewing Bally’s application, which the gaming company submitted last August. Bally’s was named the city’s preferred operator by outgoing Mayor Lori Lightfoot exactly one year ago Friday, beating out proposals from Rush Street Gaming and Hard Rock, and was quickly approved as the chosen applicant by the Chicago City Council despite concerns from a few aldermen. While the permanent casino will be built in the River West neighborhood at the Tribune publishing plant, the temporary casino will operate at Medinah Temple in nearby River North.
“We are thrilled to announce Bally’s Chicago Casino has posted all positions required to open and operate our Medinah Temple location,” Ameet Patel, senior vice president and regional general manager of Bally’s Corporation, said in a statement. “We are creating hundreds of new opportunities for the City of Chicago and are looking to hire a talented and diverse team to join us in providing our guests with exceptional gaming and entertainment experiences. The Chicago team is hard at work every day, making sure these opportunities are available across the city.”
Bally’s has hopes of opening Medinah Temple during the summer, but that is subject to the IGB’s timeline for approval, and preliminary suitability is the first step. The state agency, though, approved supplier licenses for the venue in February. The next scheduled IGB meeting is June 15, which is when Bally’s will also have a license renewal for its Quad Cities casino come up for approval before the board.
The city has projected $200 million in annual tax revenue from a downtown casino, which would go toward its underfunded police and fire pensions. In its presentation to the city, Bally’s projected it could reach $192 million in annual tax revenue by year six of full maturity.
Scanning the available jobs
The available positions run the gamut, including front-facing jobs with the titles of Table Games Dealer and Representative-Player Services. There are multiple information technology and service industry job postings and several managerial level positions available.
In its pitch to the city, Bally’s estimated creating 3,000 permanent casino positions in addition to the 3,000 construction jobs the project will create. Bally’s also set a goal of 60% minority hiring for the casino and entry-level salaries of $50,000 per year plus benefits and tuition reimbursement.
State government is also trying to add to the pool of job applicants. Senate Bill 1462, which already passed 44-12 in the Senate and is currently in the Rules Committee of the House, would allow applicants with a felony conviction to apply for non-gaming positions. The IGB, which provided testimony in support of the bill, would retain discretional authority in refusing an occupational license to “any person who has a background that poses a threat to the public interests of the State or to the security and integrity of gaming.”
Keeping up with the Joneses of Illinois casinos
The downtown Chicago casino license was one of six created by Illinois state government in the 2019 gaming expansion bill signed by Gov. JB Pritzker that also legalized sports wagering.
Of the six locations, two are currently conducting casino gaming via temporary venues — Hard Rock in Rockford and Full House Resorts in Waukegan. Hard Rock, which opened its temporary venue in November 2021, is targeting a fourth-quarter opening for its permanent casino, while Full House opened The Temporary by American Place in February.
Operators at the other three locations — Golden Nugget in Danville, Wind Creek in suburban Cook County, and Walker’s Bluff in Williamson County — all opted to bypass opening a temporary venue and are currently constructing permanent ones. Golden Nugget and Walker’s Bluff are expected to open at some point in 2023, while Wind Creek is expected to complete construction early next year.
The last new casino to open in Illinois prior to the expansion bill was Rivers Casino in Des Plaines in July 2011, which is currently the top revenue generator in the state. PENN Entertainment received approval from the IGB at the April 27 meeting to relocate its properties in Aurora and Joliet to different parts of those respective cities.
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