At the first of two community participation events, Chicagoans were given another opportunity to share their thoughts on the city’s proposed casino on Tuesday night. As the city moves on with plans to open a Bally’s Casino in River West, opinions on the matter remain strongly divided.
Mark Fastabend, who lives close to the casino site, expressed his skepticism that Bally’s and the city of Chicago could ensure the safety of nearby residents even with the assistance of the Illinois State Police.
“People are going to be leaving the casino late at night, frequently under the influence of alcohol, and some of those people will know, at least some of those people will know, that they are leaving with large amounts of money, and that creates an opportunity for crime.”
Once the casino is operational, the city will get $4 million annually
At a community meeting held on Tuesday at the Voco Hotel in the heart of the city, casino officials and architects detailed plans to preserve the temporary casino site at the Old Medinah Temple on the corner of Ohio and Wabash until the completion of the permanent casino near Chicago and Halsted, scheduled for sometime in 2026.
It was also decided that, once the casino is operational, the city will get $4 million annually, with $2 million going to a community benefits program and $2 million going to a general fund. This committee’s focus would be on problems such as diversity and inclusion.
However, many attendees were anxious about an issue involving cars: finding a place to park. Officials have responded that parking won’t be an issue, as they have determined via a traffic analysis that thousands of parking spaces are available in the area around Medinah.
Fastabend continues to prioritize security and has been in contact with Bally’s representatives to secure a promise. Will construction on a permanent casino site be halted until a long-term answer can be found? He inquired. “Bally’s said ‘no,’ and that tells me they put corporate interests before the health and safety of the people who will soon be their neighbors,” she said.