The debate about permitting sportsbetting at stadiums in Chicago has gone on for nearly half a year, but progress is finally being made. On Monday, a key city panel has voted to allow the opening of stadium sportsbooks in the Windy City – and, another, larger vote will take place later this week.
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The Proposal For Stadium Sportsbooks
The ordinance was originally introduced in July of this year by 27th Ward Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. and 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, proposing that the ban on sportsbetting in Chicago be lifted. As part of the proposal, professional sports venues would be allow to apply for sportsbetting licenses – including Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and the United Center.
Alderman Burnett had been in support of such a measure for quite some time, as sportsbetting would bring in much-needed tax revenue for the city of Chicago. A 2% tax has been proposed, which would generate about $500,000 per year.
Concerns About Cannibalizing Chicago Casino Profits
The main concern of those who oppose the ordinance is that stadium sportsbooks would eat into the revenue that would be generated by any land-based casinos that will be opening up in Chicago.
However, an argument made by Tom Ricketts, Chairman for the Chicago Cubs sums up the counterpoint pretty succinctly:
“This is not a casino or even a mini-casino. It’s a sports bar/restaurant. No slot machines, no card games, no roulette wheel, no table games, nothing like a casino.”
While he was making the case that he would be able to get a sportsbook up and running quickly, his statement also inadvertently argued that casinos in Chicago wouldn’t be competing with the new in-stadium sportsbooks.
These are the types of venues that are targeted at sports fans only. Casino goers would want an entirely different experience, so it’s very unlikely that stadium sportsbooks would be taking business away from land-based casinos.
Grant Govertson, co-founder of Union Gaming, backed this argument. He stated that there is “little to no correlation between sportsbetting revenue and that of traditional casinos”.
What’s The Earliest That Stadium Betting Will Come to Chicago?
Now that the ordinance has passed this vote, it will be voted on by the entire city council. This will take place on Wednesday, December 15.
If successful, sports teams and sportsbooks are well-positioned to get things up and running pretty quickly – at least, at Wrigley Field. Back in 2020, the Chicago Cubs announced a $100 million partnership with DraftKings, so they have already laid the groundwork.
Ricketts has stated that his team could start construction immediately. He’s even given an estimate of a 2023 opening, just in time for the start of the baseball season.
So, if the ordinance is passed this week, stadium betting will be coming to Chicago sooner than you’d think!