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As the five major sports franchises in Chicago ready their stadiums for sports betting, the teams have reached out to the Illinois Gaming Board to negotiate the state’s proposed rules.
Sports betting is coming to Illinois, primarily so the state can take a chunk out of a large deficit that is crawling into the multi-billion dollar range, and putting legalized betting in stadiums is part of the plan to reach as many bettors as possible.
One of the biggest issues facing gaming operators in the state, however, is that legislators want a $10 million licensing fee causing pause among companies that don’t know if they can ever make that initial outlay back through betting.
The five teams, the NFL’s Chicago Bears, the MLB’s White Sox and Cubs, the NBA’s Bulls and the NHL’s Blackhawks have hired a law firm to pushback on some of the proposed regulations that could prevent them from offering sports betting in their arenas and stadiums.
Fox Rothschild LLP has been retained on behalf of all five franchises and sent a letter last week to the Gaming Board to address issues their clients feel could inhibit them from embracing wagering on sporting events.
The letter comes to gaming officials at the end of the mandatory public comment period after the state adopted the legalization of sports betting in June. Under the new law, Illinois will grant up to seven licenses for sports stadiums with capacities that reach over 17,000 in size.
Collectively, the teams warned the Gaming Board that the current proposed rules made little economic sense for them to offer sports betting in their stadiums. But, they also appealed to the Gaming Board that working together made sense for the health of sports betting in the state.
“Allowing teams to participate will incentivize them to help Illinois sports wagering succeed,” the firm wrote the Board.
“Sports wagering associated with a team/facility, when activated as proposed in this letter, will attract a unique and enthusiastic mix of participants, increasing participation and adding sales tax revenue to the state.”
One of the biggest complaints in the letter concerns the state’s plan to roll out 5,000 betting locations through the state’s lottery. By doing so, the teams argue, they’ll lose their ability to control the areas around their facilities.
To justify the $10 million license fee and $250,000 application fee, the teams believe that they should receive a blackout in a five-block radius from their facility, making them the lone betting provider in that space.
“Protecting the teams’ exclusive right to authorize sports wagering activity within the five-block radius both promotes the economic interests of the State and community, and protects the teams’ investment in their fans and the quality and integrity of the games,” the letter says.
The period for public response is now over and the Gaming Board has told the media that they will share these responses on their website “in a timely manner”.
The Gaming Board’s next meeting is on November 7th, where they could adopt, create alternative rules or continue to further debate the proposed guidelines.
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