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Your casino town hall cheat sheet

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Three bidders are left in the running for the city’s first casino, but each proposal has its own unique set of challenges. 

Ahead of this week’s casino town halls, here’s what to know: 

Hard Rock at One Central near Soldier Field

The Museum Campus development is projected to bring in $139 million in annual gaming revenue, $21.7 million in taxes, and create 20,000 jobs, checking off many of the city’s core goals, according to a recent report

But the mega-casino has struggled to get funding in Springfield and 3rd Ward Ald. Pat Dowell’s approval, Block Club Chicago reported. 

Bally’s Tribune in River West

The city projected the largest proposed development would bring in $141.2 million in gaming revenue, $22.9 million in taxes, and create nearly 12,000 jobs. Bally’s is also crowdfunding in an effort to build generational wealth in the Black community, Politico Illinois reported. 

While Ald. Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward has supported the project, nearby Ald. Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward expressed concerns about the proposal to City Hall. 

Rivers 78 in South Loop

The Near South Side proposed megadevelopment — the smallest of the finalists — is projected to pull in $132.2 million in gaming revenue, $18.4 million in taxes, and generate between about 7,000 to 8,000 jobs.

But Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez of the 25th Ward wrote a letter to casino committee chair Ald. Tom Tunney of the 44th Ward, saying he couldn’t support the proposal due to concerns from Chinatown, Pilsen, and South Loop residents who are worried about the potential for increased violence, heavier traffic, and gambling addiction, The Daily Line reported.

Map of casino locations.
Possible casino locations (City of Chicago)


TODAY: Hard Rock town hall at Harold Washington Library from 6–8 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: Bally’s town hall at Tribune Publishing Plant from 6–8 p.m.

THURSDAY: Rivers 78 town hall at UIC Dorin Forum from 6–8 p.m.

You can also stream the town halls.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a winner won’t be picked until at least early summer, and then it’s off to City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board for approval, Crain’s Chicago reported.


City officials announced Monday efforts to invest in the development and expansion of block clubs, small volunteer-based neighborhood groups committed to community safety and morale. 

For a century, Chicago has had an enduring, complicated, and nostalgic relationship with block clubs — from assisting Black people moving to Chicago from the South to fostering white solidarity in support of segregation to leading beautification efforts and hosting block parties. 

🎧 Amanda Seligman, author of “Chicago’s Block Clubs: How Neighbors Shape The City,” tells us about the community groups’ complex legacy.

Trivia Q: What’s the oldest block club in the city? Reply to this email with the correct answer, and we’ll shower you with shoutouts.


▪️ Lightfoot announced a new program that would give qualifying residents money to install security cameras, lights, and GPS trackers. [Block Club Chicago]

▪️ Indicted former Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan is strategizing for the June primary: The 13th Ward Democratic committeeman held a meeting with about 30 precinct captains over the weekend, asking who was voting early and absentee. [NBC Chicago]

▪️ ETA Creative Arts Foundation in Greater Grand Crossing is hosting a free steppers night at 6 p.m. Whether you’re a pro or a newbie, all are welcome. Don’t just learn to step, learn about the history, too.

▪️ Hey, hey, what do you say about taking this little survey today? (You could win a $100 gift card this way!)

▪️ Enter this giveaway by noon to see “Moulin Rouge” Wednesday!

A multi-colored banner reading, "The future is a community project: How do you envision justice?" with the url to the Illinois Humanities' new virtual exhibit.

Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION, a virtual Illinois Humanities exhibit and activation kit that uses the arts and humanities to imagine a future without mass incarceration, is now open. The virtual exhibit features work by artists, humanists, journalists, filmmakers, poets, musicians, educators, and activists — many of whom are formerly or currently incarcerated.

The free opening reception is Wednesday.


I keep track of a lot of events happening in Chicago from City Council meetings to restaurant pop-ups to art openings to holidays. 

But I’ve realized, there are a LOT of fake holidays out there.

So when City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran sent me this TikTok, I could not stop laughing. Some of these are silly and funny, but others are so random! What is Toothache Day? Why is there a Crush a Can Day? 


happy holidays 🙂

♬ original sound – polkadothead

Who is celebrating these? How do you celebrate these? Well, we had some Chicago-style ideas 😎

▪️ TODAY: Read a Road Map Day. Get yourself a Chicago road map! (CC City Cast’s Simone Alicea, aka our resident map enthusiast.) 

▪️ FRIDAY: Draw Bird Pic Day. Bring a sketchbook to Jackson Park’s Wooded Island or Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary. 

▪️ APRIL 12: Grilled Cheese Day. Eat through the local grilled cheese scene!

▪️ APRIL 13: Be Kind to Lawyers Day. Donate to Legal Aid Chicago, a group that offers free civil legal services to people who need them across Cook County.

▪️ APRIL 21: Bulldogs Are Beautiful Day. Adopt or foster from the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue 🐾

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