Bally’s Chicago May Sell Shares To Local Minorities To Meet Diversity Standards

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  • Bally’s is expected to open in Chicago in 2026 as the city’s first casino
  • 25% of shares are expected to be sold to local minorities
  • The casino is estimated to produce $200 million in annual revenue

Bally’s revealed Tuesday that it is considering selling shares of its Chicago casino to local residents to meet minority requirements.

Bally’s Chicago was approved in 2022 and is expected to open in 2026. A temporary casino in Medinah is expected to open in August and will serve as a placeholder until the full-fledged facility opens for business.

While the anticipation of the new casino, the Windy City’s first, continues to build, its parent company needs to meet diversity standards established by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Bally’s proposed the idea to the SEC in a letter that is confidential for the time being.

Meeting the standards

The SEC’s rules are in place to promote and ensure diversity in companies and businesses in America. According to the SEC, diversity can be defined in several ways.

On top of the usual inclusion of minorities and women, the language used by the SEC is broad enough to include groups such as the LGBT community, veterans, and those with disabilities.

“The Policy Statement envisions that a regulated entity will use the Joint Standards to conduct a voluntary self-assessment of its own diversity policies and practices,” per the SEC’s website.

Bally’s already signed a deal called the Host Community Agreement with the city of Chicago which stipulates that at least one-fourth of the casino’s equity must be possessed by minorities or minority-owned businesses. Mayor Lori Lightfoot was receptive to the idea of the casino before eventually signing off on its build partly because of the agreement.

“Minority investors will own 25% of the (Chicago) project, and include philanthropists, business owners, sports stars, celebrities and everyday Chicagoans from the Black and Latino communities, as well as other ethnic and gender representation,” Bally’s website says.

Despite the website brief, Bally’s, a Rhode Island-headquartered gaming company with a U.S. sportsbook license in 14 states and casinos in 10, is not guaranteeing anything just yet. It is also not committing to selling shares to non-minority owners. 

“The number of ownership interests to be offered, the terms thereof and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined,” Bally’s said in an announcement of the proposal. “The initial public offering is expected to occur after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”

Coming soon…

The arrival of the full casino is dripping in anticipation. It is expected to cost $1.7 billion and will be Bally’s most expensive project ever. 

As is the case with all avenues of gaming across the country, there is some opposition. Opponents in this case argue that building a casino inside city limits will only steal traffic from local businesses, many of which are struggling to compete with larger global competitors as is. 

Bally’s plans to counter these concerns by offering a rewards system for casino visitors that benefits local businesses. 

“The casino offers a viable rewards program and local Chicago businesses win from patronage generated by the program,” said the Host Community Agreement Bally’s signed. “This is an expense that the small business could not spend on their own and now they are in front of thousands of Bally’s customers.”

Bally’s is also building a casino in State College, Pennsylvania. It will offer 750 slot machines, 30 table games, and a retail sportsbook.

Although Bally’s is expected to offer sports betting in its Chicago casino, it is not currently licensed as a legal sports betting operator in Illinois.

The gaming industry’s momentum is building rapidly in Illinois. Last month, it was reported that the industry generated $1.9 billion in revenue during fiscal year 2022, a record high and a 39% increase in 2021. 

The new Bally’s in Chicago is estimated to add another $200 million in annual funding for the city. The first cut of that will go to funding pensions for local first responders.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.