Featured in this article:
  • Chicago professional sports venues will be allowed to build their own sportsbooks.
  • City will impose a 2% excise tax on the stadium locations.
  • Opponents argue stadium betting will harm future Chicago casino.

2 Minute Read

Cubs fans may soon be able to place a bet inside of Wrigley Field.

A Wednesday vote by City Council has paved the way for Chicago stadium sportsbooks to open soon. Professional venues like Wrigley Field and the United Center can apply for their own Illinois sports betting licenses.

By lifting a home-rule ban on sportsbooks within the city’s borders, Chicago City Council will let patrons bet on games while attending them. The sportsbooks will likely stay open year-round as part of a sports bar/entertainment venue concept.

Cubs Ready for Chicago Stadium Sportsbooks

Leading the charge for allowing arena and stadium sportsbooks has been the Chicago Cubs. This week, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told the City Council that they plan to build a $100 million sportsbook entertainment center.

Downtown Chicago, Illinois

Professional Chicago stadiums will soon host their own sportsbooks. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

The Cubs see a sportsbook as a centerpiece of their revamped real estate project surrounding venerable Wrigley Field. Their partnership with DraftKings will likely house the first in-stadium sportsbook at a Major League Baseball venue.

However, Ricketts stated that the concept will not open until at least 2023 due to construction timelines. He described the sportsbook as a β€œsports bar-restaurant.”

Opponents Believe Sportsbooks Will Harm Chicago Casino

Illinois is in the midst of a gambling renaissance that has seen it climb towards the top of the largest sports betting states. Part of the gambling expansion championed by governor J.B. Pritzker since 2019 has been a downtown Chicago resort-casino.

Right now, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is choosing between five competing proposals for the new Chicago casino. However, high tax rates and the need to anchor a significant real estate development kept many large casino operators from bidding for the location.

Those who oppose allowing Chicago’s sports teams to have their own sportsbooks believe they will further hurt the mega-casino. Neil Bluhm, who owns casinos including the suburban Chicago Rivers Casino, stated that allowing stadium sportsbooks could cost Chicago β€œ$10 million to $12 million per year.”

The owner of the White Sox and Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, accused Bluhm of being a hypocrite. Reinsdorf claims Bluhm wants to either eliminate competition or operate the stadium sportsbooks himself.

Either way, Chicago stadiums will likely soon feature sportsbooks. The City Council plans to levy a 2% excise tax on top of any statewide betting taxes. They estimate this excise tax could raise an additional $500,000 annually for the city.

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for GambleOnline.co about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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