Chicago Could See Sports Betting If Local Leader Has His Way

Chicago Alderman Walter Burnett has introduced an ordinance that could possibly lift the ban on sports betting in the Windy City. It would allow the city to issue licenses and set revenue parameters, giving Illinois new streams of income. The City Council is set to vote on that ordinance and, if betting on sports becomes legal, massive changes could take place. Recently, the Chicago Cubs signed a major deal with DraftKings worth $100 million. This partnership sparked the motion and, since Burnett’s ward includes the United Center, the Cubs’ home field, a motion like this was expected.

Windy City Sports Betting Possibly a Reality

At the moment, Chicago has a home-rule ban when it comes to betting on sports. But, Burnett wants to change all of that with the recently presented ordinance in front of the City Council. In the scenario of the sports betting ban being lifted, there are a couple of solutions as to where these activities could take place. Some of the most mentioned locations include Guaranteed Rate Field, the United Center, Wrigley Field, Wintrust Arena and Soldier Field. Additionally, there are also talks of other solutions which would be equally effective.

The alternative includes a brick-and-mortar betting shop that would be five blocks away from one of the stadiums that are mentioned above. To add to that, people would also be able to bet inside a casino and at inter-track facilities. The maximum number of kiosks or wagering windows would be 15 at a given location. There will be an exception if people can buy food and beverages there. Per accepted guidelines, people who are not 21 cannot bet on sports.

Moreover, there would be restrictions as to when people of legal age could bet. They would not be able to bet on Monday through Thursday from midnight to 10 AM, midnight to 9 AM on Friday, and on Saturday and Sunday, the prohibition would last from 1 AM to 9 AM.

Different Types of Licenses to be Considered

Logically, every operator would need a license to provide people with betting services in Chicago and there will be two types if the measure is approved. A Primary license, which starts at $50,000, plus $25,000 to renew it each year, is the first one. The second one is the Secondary license, which starts at $10,000, plus $5,000 to renew it each year.

As for the ordinance itself, Burnett is aware of the fact that the debate on it will be fierce. After all, lifting the ban on sports betting could somehow motivate Chicagoans to spend their paychecks on these activities. But, as he says, the state of Illinois has already legalized sports betting and some of the benefits that come by it are increased sales tax, more people visiting the United Center, as well as more amusement. Burnett acknowledges the downside, which is that people might develop an addiction, but he’s ready to talk about all of those points.

Alderman Anthony Beale doesn’t like the idea. He claimed that the ordinance was submitted too late to be held on Wednesday, but was overruled. After that, Beale managed to use a parliamentary maneuver which is why the ordinance was sent to the Rules Committee, which slows the process down.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot Reacts

Mayor Lori Lightfoot gave a comment on these events and she stated that the playing field should be leveled. Furthermore, she gave a vow to regulate the industry by enforcing tight restrictions just so the neighborhoods of Chicago won’t look like the Vegas Strip.

On the question of whether she thinks that sports betting would pose a threat to the revenue of a Chicago casino, she responded that the law on sports betting was passed in 2019, that she supports it, and ultimately, doesn’t think it would cause a threat to a future casino.

Alderman Tom Tunney also acknowledged the fact that sports betting has become a reality in Illinois and in the US. His ward includes Wrigley Field and he stated that sports betting will come to the stadiums one way or another. But, Tunney was adamant that neighborhood protections will be demanded if a betting parlor is built by the Cubs and Draftkings on the campus of Wrigley.

Julian Green, the spokesman for the Cubs, stated that the Cups hope for this to be just the beginning and, in the future, would build an addition to the Wrigley campus to make it a year-round attraction. Green also added that, according to DraftKings, the proposed sportsbook would be the largest in the country and would be able to accommodate numerous guests that want to watch the March Madness, Super Bowl, and more, and provide them with food and beverages. It might also be a good way to keep the Chicago Bears from wanting to relocate.

As for the location, Green stated that they still haven’t come up with one, as these matters need to be discussed with the city. 

Sports betting was introduced in Illinois two years ago. There were ten casinos in the state, all of which launched sportsbooks, as well as two racetracks. Currently, Chicagoans need to drive to these locations to wager or to register for mobile betting, and as results now indicate, there are no widespread gambling problems.