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In June of 2019, sports betting finally became legal in the state of Illinois, but not in the city of Chicago, and since then that ban has become the subject of many a contentious debate held by lawmakers, industry leaders, minority interests, and Windy City gamblers.
Last week, Chicago sports bettors got their wish when a joint City Council Committee agreed to lift the existing ban on sports betting in the city so that five of its major stadiums could establish sportsbooks in and around their premises.
It was the City Council’s Committee on Zoning and License that moved this stalled issue forward by addressing one of the major points of contention, which centered around prioritizing race and diversity in whatever future sports betting market Chicago might enjoy.
In a nod to the city’s critical Black Caucus, the language of this updated ordinance was adjusted to “encourage” minority and women-owned businesses to apply for these sports betting licenses and to “actively seek to achieve racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity when issuing primary sports licenses.”
Now, thanks to a lift of that ban, five Chicago area sports venues will begin taking bets.
As we previously reported in Chicago City Council Further Stalls Plans for Sports Betting at Arenas, the issue of bringing legal sportsbooks to Chicago stadiums was not quickly settled, but with so much potential revenue on the table, it was only a matter of time before a compromise was made.
There are five Chicago sports venues that will now be eligible for a sports betting license:
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts told reporters his group was “ready to go today” on its $100 million partnership with DraftKings, the goal is to install Major League Baseball’s first-ever stadium sportsbook at Wrigley Field, saying:
With your approval of this ordinance, construction would begin immediately with the aim of opening a restaurant with a sportsbook in time for the 2023 season. This will create construction jobs and revenues now and permanent jobs in just over a year.
Of course, not everybody was happy that this Chicago sports betting ban was lifted.
One of the main opponents to the idea of allowing sportsbooks to operate in Chicago stadiums is Neil Bluhm, Rush Street Gaming co-founder, his company part of two separate groups vying to build a Chicago casino.
Bluhm believes allowing “five mini-casinos” in the Chicago sports venues would “take visitors and money away” from a Chicago casino, with his experts estimating the city could lose anywhere between $10 million to $12 million per year.
According to a study done by Union Gaming Analytics, however, the loss would be far less than that, perhaps “no more than $4.3 million and the city $843,000 in gaming taxes.”
That debate will no doubt continue, but the ban has now been lifted and Chicago’s sports betting ball is rolling, so check back for all the latest news and updates on this ongoing story.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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