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First legal casino opens in Chicago after decades of political wrangling

Sept. 9 (UPI) -- More than 30 years after it was first proposed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley, the city of Chicago on Saturday hosted the opening of its first legal casino.

Bally's Casino threw open its doors at 8:00 a.m. at the former Medinah Temple in the River North area just north of the Chicago Loop, a building which was built in Moorish Revival style by the city's Shriners in 1912.

Crowds of gamblers were lined up outside the venue even before the official opening.

The location is temporary, intended to operate for three years while Bally's completes construction on its permeant casino at the site of the Chicago Tribune printing plant in River West.

Daley originally endorsed the idea of a casino to supplement public funds as early as 1992 but successive administrations were unable to iron out a concrete plan with state legislators until Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed to Bally's project over three other contenders in 2019.

City officials hope the temporary casino can generate up to $50 million in taxes, which can be used to fund pensions for firefighters and police.

Bally's says the temporary casino has 56 tables and nearly 800 slot machines.