Chicago casino RFP losing interest

Chicago's RFP is losing interest.
Chicago's RFP is losing interest.

The contest for a Chicago casino licence has attracted four industry players, but two remain unsure.

US.- Four companies had shown an interest in Chicago’s RFP, but two remain unconvinced.

The city has high expectations: it’s calling for a $1bn investment for a 500-room 5-star hotel and an entertainment venue. But potential operators have concerns.

According to the Chicago Sun Times, some potential operators consider there’s little potential to expand traditional gaming and that the risk is too great to meet the city’s aspirations for something close to a resort.

Alan Woinski, president of Gaming USA, told to the newspaper: “The casinos in the state have been in nothing but a downward spiral for a decade, except for Rivers.

“There’s no reason to believe that if you add a casino downtown that you’ll do anything but cannibalize the others, including Rivers. It’s kind of a zero-sum game and everybody loses.”

Critics also see obstacles in the tax rate. A recent proposal to bring sports betting to Chicago stadiums also could amount to competition that scares off a mega-casino.

Woinski said sportsbooks aren’t big moneymakers for casinos, but they draw crowds. If the action happens elsewhere, “that’s one less reason for people to physically go to the casino,” he said.

City officials contend there is room here to increase the size of the gaming market. In 2019, Union Gaming found that per-capita spending on gaming in the Chicago area was half that of other metropolitan regions.

Authorities have set an August 23 deadline for the RFP process. One core goal contenders must fulfill is offering a development “of superb quality and architecturally significant design,” according to the city’s request published in April.

MGM voiced interest in a Chicago site last year when it responded to a city survey about casino issues, but CEO Bill Hornbuckle has now criticised the tender.

He said: “Chicago is just complicated. The history there in Chicago, the tax and the notion of integrated resort at scale don’t necessarily marry up. And while I think they’ve had some improvement, we’re not overly keen or focused at this point in time there.”

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Wynn Resorts, another firm initially interested in Chicago, said the company has decided not to participate in the request for proposals.

Chicago’s Rush Street Gaming, owner of the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, said it’s still deciding how to respond to the “unique opportunity.”

The remaining company that expressed interest a year ago was Hard Rock International.

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Land-based casinos MGM Resorts