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Neighbors Overwhelmingly Say They Don’t Want A Casino At The 78 Megadevelopment, Survey Results Show

Residents said they were concerned about the casino leading to more crime, traffic, decreased home values and gambling addictions.

South Loop buildings loom over the vacant swath that is home to “The 78,” which is advertised as “Chicago’s newest neighborhood,” as seen from the Chicago River on a Wendella Chicago Architecture Tour on Oct. 20, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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SOUTH LOOP — Hundreds of South Loop, Chinatown and Bridgeport residents are pushing back against a casino proposed for The 78 megadevelopment, saying they think it would lead to more crime in the area, declining home values, contribute to heavy traffic and exacerbate problem gambling.

The 78 Community Advisory Council collected survey responses about the casino from 378 people in February, co-chair Debbie Liu said at a Tuesday night meeting. About three-fourths of respondents said they were highly unsupportive of the casino proposal.

The majority of people said they already did not support the megadevelopment poised to overhaul the 62-acre former railroad yard next to the Chicago River between the South Loop and Chinatown. The prospect of adding a casino there has made the project less popular, according to survey results.

Some people who took the survey said they were from Pilsen or Bronzeville, where some residents also have criticized a casino proposal near the Lakefront. All questions posed in the survey and during the meeting are being collected and will be brought to city officials, Liu said.

RELATED: If A Chicago Casino Opens Near Chinatown, Community Members Say Problem Gamblers Need Support

Josh Ellis, a member of the advisory council, said the council anticipates the city is working to narrow down the list of potential casino spots from five to two this month. If The 78 is one of the finalists for the casino, there will be more formal community meetings, Ellis said.

A spokesperson for the city couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the city’s timeline for choosing a casino site.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th), whose ward includes the development site, said Tuesday he agrees with some of the concerns neighbors shared about the prospect of having a casino at The 78.

“I’m listening very carefully in terms of what is the feedback,” Sigcho-Lopez said. “We will make sure that the feedback from the [Community Advisory Council] as well as from the surrounding neighborhoods is respected.”

Credit: Provided
A rendering of the Discovery Partners Institute in The 78.

The 78 developer Related Midwest is partnering with billionaire Neil Bluhm’s Rush Street Gaming on the proposed $2 billion Rivers Casino.

As of November, the plan included:

  • 2,600 slots.
  • 190 table games.
  • 300 hotel rooms.
  • Eight restaurants, cafes and a food hall.
  • Five bars and lounges.
  • Riverfront venue and plaza with an observation deck.

Liu said the survey will stay open until for a bit longer for residents who missed their opportunity to fill out the survey and have their opinion shared with the city.

Representatives for Rush Street could not immediately be reached for comment.

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