Green light for sports betting at Chicago stadiums

The Chicago City Council has given the green light for sports venues in the city to open sports betting areas.

The ruling paves the way for the city’s stadiums and arenas to open sportsbooks and other betting outlets. The likes of Soldier Field (Chicago Bears), Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs), Guaranteed Rate Field (Chicago White Sox) and United Center (Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks) will all benefit from the new rules.

Sports betting has been legalised in the state of Illinois since 2019 but stadiums required approval from the City of Chicago to implement retail sportsbooks on-site. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had initially been against the idea but has since changed tack, and the council has this week voted in favour of the measure.

A two-per-cent tax on sports betting has been introduced, which is expected to generate between $400,000 (£300,000/€354,000) and $500,000 a year for the council. Nine council members voted against the measure this week but approval was granted nonetheless.

Following the approval, sportsbooks will be permitted to open either inside Chicago’s sports venues or within five blocks of them.

In September 2020, the Cubs detailed plans for a first-of-its-kind sportsbook at Wrigley Field after signing a partnership with digital sports entertainment and gaming company DraftKings.

The multi-year deal named DraftKings as the official sports betting and daily fantasy partner of the Cubs. The agreement included plans for a sportsbook at the team’s iconic home stadium, with online access to be available in the surrounding Wrigleyville area.

The Cubs became the first MLB team to detail plans for a retail sportsbook on its stadium premises. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals have since detailed plans for sportsbooks through partnerships with Caesars and BetMGM, respectively.

In May, a William Hill sportsbook officially opened at Capital One Arena, home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, becoming the first sports betting venue to open within a US professional sports facility.