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Hard Rock sets its sights on Chicago casino

This rendering is of the proposed One Central development in Chicago that would include a Hard Rock casino. (Courtesy Gina Morales, HRI)

Chicago officials are considering five proposals from three firms that want to operate a casino in the Windy City. One of the firms is Hard Rock International – owned by the Seminole Tribe. The other two firms are Bally’s and Rush Street Gaming.

The Chicago Tribune reported Nov. 8 that Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city officials were in the process of looking at the bids in advance of recommending a firm.

Hard Rock’s bid, with Landmark Development, includes a gambling emporium located in a massive mixed-use project called One Central. Developers want to build it over train tracks west of Soldier Field, the storied football stadium of the NFL’s Chicago Bears.

If a majority of the Chicago City Council gives Lightfoot’s recommendation the green light, it would then head to the Illinois Gaming Board for an up-or-down vote on whether to award a casino license, the Tribune report said.

Lightfoot has said she would like to have a finalist picked out to recommend to the gaming board sometime in the first quarter of 2022. After an application is submitted to the board, regulators would conduct background investigations of all the parties involved in the proposal – a standard procedure.

Hard Rock and Landmark’s plan is to develop a 35-acre train yard with a platform on which a retail, dining and entertainment destination will blossom. It would include thousands of residences and significant office space. The Hard Rock casino portion would serve as the anchor of the project.

“Hard Rock International is excited to participate in the RFP (request for proposals) process to bring our unique brand of world class entertainment to the city of Chicago at One Central,” Hard Rock spokeswoman Gina Morales said in a statement to the Tribune.

Hard Rock has been active in other areas of Illinois and also in Indiana recently. The new Hard Rock Casino Rockford in the northern part of the state has been moving forward at a steady clip – with the opening of a temporary casino this month while the permanent one is being built. Hard Rock Rockford will be a $310 million development once complete.

Meanwhile, about two hours away from Rockford, the Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana opened May 14. The $300 million casino is located in Gary, home to the iconic music group the Jackson 5.

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at