Chicago’s First Casino Opens at Historic Medinah Temple


Chicagoans can now enjoy the thrill of gambling at the city’s first ever casino, which opened its doors to the public on Saturday, September 9, 2023. The temporary Bally’s casino is located at the former Medinah Temple, a 111-year-old landmark building in the River North neighborhood. The casino features 750 slot machines and 50 table games, as well as two restaurants and a VIP/high roller level.

The casino has been in rehearsals this week, but received the final approval from the Illinois Gaming Board on Friday. Mark Wong, the general manager of Bally’s Casino Chicago, said in a statement: “We look forward to opening our doors and allowing patrons to enjoy every aspect of the latest entertainment destination in this beautiful city.”

Chicago’s First Casino Opens at Historic Medinah Temple
Chicago’s First Casino Opens at Historic Medinah Temple

Bally’s Casino Preserves Historical Architecture

The Medinah Temple, which was built in 1912 as a meeting place for the Shriners, a fraternal organization, has been preserved and restored by Bally’s. The casino has kept the original ceilings, stained glass windows, and ornate decorations of the temple, while adding modern amenities and gaming equipment.

The temple has a rich history and has hosted various events, such as concerts, circuses, and trade shows. It was also used as a recording studio by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In 2001, it was sold to Bloomingdale’s, which converted it into a home furnishings store. In 2019, it was acquired by Bally’s Corporation, which announced its plans to open a temporary casino there.

Bally’s Casino Prepares for Permanent Location

The temporary casino at Medinah Temple is expected to operate for up to three years, while Bally’s builds its permanent $1.7 billion casino development at the Chicago Tribune Freedom Center printing plant site in River West. The permanent casino will be the largest in Illinois, with 4,000 gaming positions and a hotel, spa, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.

The permanent casino is part of a massive gambling expansion signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2019, which also allows for five other new casinos in the state, including one in the south suburbs. The Chicago casino is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city and the state, as well as create thousands of jobs.

The city’s mayor, Brandon Johnson, has earmarked the city’s share of the casino revenue for its underfunded police and firefighter pensions. He said in a statement: “I am thrilled that Chicagoans will finally have access to a world-class gaming and entertainment experience right here in our own backyard. This is a historic moment for our city and our economy.”


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