Chinatown residents gathered on Sunday to protest against one of three proposed sites for downtown Chicago’s first integrated casino resort.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in March the three developer finalists, which include Hard Rock’s $1.7 billion bid near Soldier Field, Bally’s Corporation’s $1.8 billion bid at the Chicago Tribune publishing site and Rush Street Gaming’s Rivers 78 proposal of a $1.62 billion casino just north of Chinatown. A Chinatown health organization leader, however, said that polling indicates most residents do not want a casino in their neighborhood.
Among the protesters on Sunday were Dr. Kim Tee, the Commissioner at the State of Illinois Hospital Licensing Board, and Dr. Hong Liu of the Midwest Asian Health Association.
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“Having a casino would damage the community, the nearby neighborhoods badly. Such as increase [sic] the traffic, more crime that we already have. And gambling addiction,” Tee, who is also a Chinatown resident, said. “Most of the people, they feel concerned,” Liu told Fox. “They don’t feel comfortable to have [sic] a casino near Chinatown, which may damage the community’s safety and increase the addiction problem.”
Illinois State Representative Theresa Mah, who is also against the proposed site, highlighted the “impact of gaming on a vulnerable population living and working nearby” the site for the Rivers 78 proposal.
“The Chinese community has a long history with problem gaming as well as predatory marketing on the part of casinos,” she wrote in an opinion piece published in the Chicago Sun Times. “A new casino located right next door to Chinatown would be particularly harmful in this context.”
Third Ward Alderperson Pat Dowell has also opposed Hard Rock Casino’s proposal.
“The Hard Rock Casino at One Central would be dropped into an existing, well established community. I have concerns about the density of the Hard Rock Casino proposal … the public safety impacts … the financials … and the infrastructure needs,” she said in a statement.
Mayor Lightfoot has said the winning developer will be chosen no later than June and stresses the potential benefits of the casino, claiming that revenues will relieve pressure from taxpayers and help support the fire and police pension funds.