- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has extended the deadline for Chicago casino applications.
- MGM, Wynn and Caesars have already taken themselves out of the running.
- Rush Street Interactive is a likely favorite to end up as the operator.
CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot originally set a deadline of Aug. 23 for those interested in operating a casino in Chicago. However, after apparent lukewarm interest, the deadline has been extended to Oct. 29.
Lightfoot has been notably in favor of a Chicago casino, speaking at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States conference to solicit bidders.
“Extending the deadline for interested bidders will allow the City to collect as many robust, impactful and transformative proposals as possible,” said Lightfoot. “I look forward to seeing these bids roll in and working very closely with whichever team is ultimately chosen to develop Chicago’s first-ever casino.”
The extension comes after other attempts to woo potential bidders, which included a reduced tax rate (a drop from 72% to 40%).
MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts and Caesars Entertainment, several of the largest online gambling companies, have already noted that they do not intend to submit bids. The likely winner of any bidding process has long been seen as Rush Street Interactive, which operates out of Chicago, and is a part of many city institutions.
Rush Street Interactive recently partnered with the Chicago Bears and is a favorite to end up operating sportsbooks in Soldier Field if the NFL allows them to do so.
Lightfoot, on the other hand, might be worried about the appearance of impropriety when it comes to Rush Street. Given Rush Street’s Chicago connections, it’s not surprising that there are major Lightfoot backers connected to the company.
The daughters of Rush Street chairman Neil Bluhm, Leslie Bluhm and Meredith Bluhm-Wolf, have donated significant amounts of money to Lightfoot in the past. Despite the apparent lack of interest, Lightfoot’s office insists that the project is not only viable, but desirable.
“The Chicago casino project is currently one of the most attractive casino-resort development opportunities in the country,” said the Mayor’s office.