Bally’s temporary casino opened its doors to the public on Saturday welcoming excited hordes who lined up hours before its 8 a.m. opening.
Housed inside the historic Medinah Temple in River North, the casino is the first and only casino located in the City of Chicago and features 750 slot machines, 55 table games, two restaurants, and a cafe.
The temporary casino will operate in the landmark building in River North while construction is carried out on the $1.7 billion permanent casino location at the Chicago Tribune Publishing Center in River West.
Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 once Tribune Publishing vacates the building and is expected to take two to three years finishing sometime in 2026.
Despite being temporary the opening of the casino has been met with fierce opposition from neighbors and the River North Residents Association who are concerned with its immediate effect on the busy tourist district.
Many have voiced their concerns about increased crime and heavy traffic in the surrounding area including 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins and local 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly who expressed that he was “vehemently opposed to the casino opening at Medinah Temple.”
Though Bally’s won’t be taking the controversial yet common decision to contract any charter buses, there has been no reassurance as of yet on how it will attempt to mitigate any traffic congestion problems that its opening may cause.
Inside the casino guests will find three floors. 400 slot machines are found immediately on the first floor upon entering, such as Cash Falls, Ocean Spin, Queenie, and Butterfly Rise as well as a lavish circular bar in the center.
There is an array of table games found on the second and third floors of the casino including such games as blackjack, roulette, baccarat, craps, and other games.
On the third floor, an Asian fusion spot named Kitchen 888 has seats for 54 people and offers “a modern high-energy restaurant and noodle bar inspired by Asian street food” while the Medinah Bistro, also on the third floor, seats 65 people and provides “classic comfort food and flavorful creations.”
Wabash Café, situated on the first floor offers coffee, juices, and ready-to-eat options like sandwiches.
For those unfamiliar with the the landmark structure at Wabash Avenue and Ontario Street, the Medinah Temple was built in 1912 and features eye-catching Moorish-style architecture. It was once home to a U-shaped auditorium that could seat up to 4,200 people and hosted all manner of concerts and large-scale events.
The building was then designated a Chicago landmark in 2001 but its interior was drastically changed in the early 2000s to accommodate a new Bloomingdale store that resided there from 2003 up until 2020.
Bally’s Casino is located at 600 N. Wabash Ave. and is open from 8 am until 4 am seven days a week. Officials confirmed that the casino eventually aims to be open 24 hours.
More information can be found at casinos.ballys.com/chicago.
[Featured image courtesy of Bally’s Casino]