City holds 1st public meeting on Chicago casino bids

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicagoans came in person Thursday to hear about five proposals to build a casino in the city.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who kicked off the event at the UIC Forum, mentioned the magnitude of the occasion.

"This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dramatically shape the landscape and reputation of our city and its bright future," she said.

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From there, each bidding team gave a timed presentation.

Rivers-McCormick is proposing a casino that would transform the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place. Their plan includes local chef Carlos Gaytan of Tzuco.

"Chicago has done great things for me, my family, and the careers of our team members. We cannot wait to see this city continue to flourish," he said.

Every team employed its own tactics. Hard Rock's presentation included a video and a familiar face: Chicago Urban League president Karen Freeman-Wilson.

"The new way of doing business is to create a table that allows for community-based organizations like ours," she said.

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Rivers-78 relied on their hometown connections and an animation of their proposal, which they called the Eiffel Tower of Chicago. Some people are relying on the project.

"I can have 40 people working, and that would mean so much. So we're excited," said Lateshia Jackson of A&L Environmental LLC.

Bally's casinos has two bids: one along the river by Chicago Avenue and the other in the McCormick Place Truck Marshalling lot.

The mayor said that for every bid, the devil is in the details.

""Are these projects really viable because we want partnership, but we don't flip the bill for somebody else's casino, so they have to be financially viable," Lightfoot said.

The mayor wants Chicago to select a casino by April. After that, the state gaming board will take up the issue.
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